IV

Narratives of African American Art and Identity

Claude Clark

Slave Lynching, 1946

Oil on canvas

13.25" x 16.5"


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Slave Lynching

One of America's most respected black artists, Claude Clark was an influential educator as well. As an art instructor, Clark was instrumental in establishing the Art Department at Alabama's Talladega College. He taught there from 1948 until 1955, when he was succeeded by the young David Driskell. Clark's influence spread as he moved to Oakland, California, where, after obtaining his master's degree from the University of California at Berkeley, he taught art at a juvenile justice facility until 1967. In 1969 he joined the staff of Oakland's Merritt College, where he responded to the call by the Black Panther party to develop a curriculum that was relevant to black culture by writing A Black Art Perspective: A Black Teacher's Guide to a Black Visual Arts Curriculum.

From black genre to political commentary, Claude Clark's own work focused on the varied experiences of black people in the Americas. Clark's 1946 Slave Lynching is a dramatic illustration of the inhumanity of slavery. The public lynching, or flogging, of a black slave by a white male demonstrated the type of violence that was the legacy of this system of exploitation and cruelty. Clark's use of the palette knife to apply his pigment results in a highly textured, expressionistic style that enhances the movement as well as the emotion of this horrific scene.  A. L. C.

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