David C. Driskell Center


Heroes: Gone But Not Forgotten
– The Art of Charles White

Thursday, January 30 - Friday, May 23, 2014



HEROES: GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN–The Art of Charles White, a collection of over 50 works created by artist Charles White, featuring drawings, prints, and paintings spanning from the 1930s to the 1970s. From early drawings to works that incorporate the experience of a lifetime, the works in this exhibition represent a broad slice of a storied and rich career. The exhibition will open at the Driskell Center on Thursday, January 30th, 2014, with an opening reception from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., and will remain on display until Friday, May 23rd, 2014.

Charles White (1918-1979) flourished in the face of conflict. His work draws much of its strength from the racism he faced during his childhood in Chicago. In the later part of his career, he struggled to maintain a representational style when the mainstream of American art was shifting towards the Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism of artists like Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock; again, these difficulties served as a catalyst to propel the quality and scope of his work. White envisions steadfast heroes: heroes not born of privilege or power, but rather created by the achievement of the human spirit.

Whether the piece is a drawing, painting, linocut, or lithograph, White uses strong lines to instill in his richly detailed figures a sense of dignity and quiet heroism. In Awaiting His Return (1946, charcoal on paper), White presents a woman, head in hand, eyes sad yet hopeful. The altered perspective lines of the drawing invite the viewer to look beyond what is plainly visible; the soft charcoal shading contained within the harsh, sharply angular confines of her body indicate the distances between pain and resolve–the struggle of the hero.

The majority of the works in this exhibition–the largest collection of White’s work displayed in several decades–have never before been seen. The works come from the Arthur Primas Collection, which includes more than five hundred works of art by African American artists and artists of the Diaspora. The exhibition is curated by Charlotte Sherman of the Heritage Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. It is organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions and has traveled to the North Carolina Central University Art Museum in Durham, North Carolina in 2012; the exhibition will continue to travel following its closing at the Driskell Center.

In conjunction with the Heroes exhibition, the David C. Driskell Center is proud to feature several works by Charles White from the Center’s permanent art collection, most notably Sammy Davis Jr. (1959, graphite drawing mounted onto acrylic painted board) and Creole Madonna (1934, color crayon on paper), recently donated to the Center from the Sandra and Lloyd Baccus Collection. In addition, the Center will organize a Drawnathon, a day when students and local art enthusiasts will attempt to complete the longest drawing ever created.

The David C. Driskell facility is wheelchair accessible. The Driskell Center Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 11a.m. to 4p.m. with extended hours on Wednesday until 6p.m. The Driskell Center Gallery will additionally be open on the following Saturdays: February 22nd, March 29th, April 26th, and May 10th from 11a.m. to 4p.m. The Driskell Center observes all University of Maryland closings due to inclement weather and holidays, including the Spring Break holiday March 16th-23rd. All exhibitions and events at the David C. Driskell Center are free and open to the public.