David Driskell (1931–2020) was one of the most revered American artists of his generation, long recognized for his vibrant and versatile work as a painter and printmaker. His art combines keen observations of America with the imagery and aesthetic innovations of the African diaspora.
Driskell found stimulation for his artistic exploration in his activities as an influential curator, educator, and scholar, who tirelessly asserted the importance of Black artists to the history of American art. Although his work regularly appeared in galleries and museums during his lifetime, in both solo and group exhibitions, his paintings and works on paper are united in this exhibition for the first time.
The exhibition is the first major presentation of Driskell’s work since his death in April 2020 at the age of 88. Bringing together 58 highlights of his distinguished career, it surveys the artist’s painterly practice from the 1950s forward. The exhibition explores his thematic concerns, from the solace of nature to the tumult of the 1960s and his search for identity through African images and forms. Driskell also paid tribute to admired colleagues in pieces dedicated to Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden. The array of media represented, from oil painting to encaustic and collage to woodcut, reveal Driskell’s enchantment with experimentation and vitality in the studio.