Charles White: A Retrospective

Exhibitions

  • Art Institute of Chicago

June 10–September 3, 2018

Charles White, Harvest Talk, 1953. The Art Institute of Chicago, Restricted gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert S. Hartman, 1991.126.

Charles White (1918—1979), born in Chicago and educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, was one of the preeminent artists to emerge during the city’s Black Renaissance of the 1930s and 1940s. A passionate mural and easel painter and superbly gifted draftsman, White powerfully interpreted African American history, culture, and lives in striking works that nevertheless transcend racial categorization. His essential quest was to discover the truth, beauty, and dignity of life and people, using an expressive and highly accessible realism.

Charles White: A Retrospective unites a selection of the artist's finest works, speaking to their universal appeal and stunning beauty and their relevance to audiences today. The exhibition’s focused and overdue consideration of White's work and influence in Chicago proves invaluable in understanding the ongoing themes of his art and his later artistic development even after his departure from the city. While centered on White, the exhibition also seeks to further understanding of Chicago's immense contributions to American art history and deepen understanding of White's artistic production through the close examination of his early and later work in light of his context to Chicago.

The exhibition is led by Sarah Kelly Oehler, Gilda and Henry Buchbinder Curator and Interim Director, Department of American Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, with support from Mark Pascale, the Art Institute’s Janet and Craig Duchossois Curator of Prints and Drawings, and Esther Adler, Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints at the Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition is co-organized by The Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. It will travel to the Museum of Modern Art, October 7, 2018 – January 13, 2018, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 3 – June 9, 2019.

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