Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary @ California African American Museum

Charles White was a prolific painter, printmaker, muralist, draftsman, and photographer whose career spanned more than half a century. His portrayals of black subjects, life, and history were extensive and his emotional works struck a particular chord with his viewers. Plumb Line features contemporary artists whose work resonates with White’s profound and continuing influence. From abstraction to figuration, the artists of this exhibition find conversation with White through their expressive renderings of black skin and black community, as well as the treatment of black past and presence in both epic and intimate ways.

Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary is on view through August 25 at the California African American Museum 600 State Dr, Los Angeles, CA. photographs courtesy of the California African American Museum

Charles White: A Retrospective Opens @ MoMA In New York

Charles White: A Retrospective is the first major museum survey devoted to the artist in over 30 years. The exhibition charts White’s full career—from the 1930s through his premature death in 1979—with over 100 works, including drawings, paintings, prints, photographs, illustrated books, record covers and archival materials.

The exhibition is organized chronologically, with groupings centered on the cities and creative communities in which White lived and worked. Each section is supported by relevant ephemera and supporting materials detailing White’s working process, political and social activities, and role as a teacher.

The exhibition includes representative work from the three artistic centers in which White lived, created, and taught throughout his life: Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. It begins with early paintings and murals White made for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Depression-era Chicago, where he grew up. Shortly thereafter, between 1942 and 1956, White lived mainly in New York City, teaching drawing, exhibiting at the progressive ACA Gallery on 57th Street, and supporting the Committee for the Negro in the Arts in Harlem. A selection of White’s personal photographs, also on view in the exhibition, capture his life in New York, while the inclusion of his work for album covers, publications, film, and television emphasize his dedication to more accessible distribution outlets for his art. The presentation concludes with the inventive output from his last decades as an internationally established figure and influential teacher in Los Angeles during the 1960s and ’70s.

The retrospective is on view through January 13, 2019 at MoMA 11 West 53 Street, Manhattan, New York. Following its MoMA presentation, the exhibition will travel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where it will be on view in Spring 2019. photographs courtesy of MoMA

30 Americans

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Xaviera Simmons, One Day & Back Then (Standing), 2007. Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

30 Americans is a wide-ranging survey of work by many of the most important African American artists of the last three decades. Selected from the Rubell Family Collection, the exhibition brings together seminal figures such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Hammons with younger and emerging artists such as Kehinde Wiley and Shinique Smith. Often provocative and challenging, 30 Americans focuses on issues of racial, sexual, and historical identity in contemporary culture. It explores how each artist reckons with the notion of black identity in America, navigating such concerns as the struggle for civil rights, popular culture, and media imagery. At the same time, it highlights artistic legacy and influence, tracing subject matter and formal strategies across generations. 30 Americans consists of 76 paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and videos, and includes spectacular works of art such as Leonardo Drew’s massive cotton and wax sculpture Untitled #25, several of Nick Cave’s exuberant Soundsuits, and a large-scale silhouette by Kara Walker. On view October 1 to February 12, 2012 at the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washinton, DC.