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Charles White: A Retrospective | At The Art Institute

"Born in Chicago and educated at the School of the Art Institute, Charles White was part of the city's flourishing black artistic community of the 1930s.

"He was determined to employ art in the struggle for social change, declaring, 'Paint is the only weapon I have with which to fight what I resent.'

"Influenced by Mexican muralists such as Diego Rivera, White completed several important mural commissions in the city, including one for a branch of the Chicago Public Library."


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"Charles White (1918-1979) powerfully interpreted African-American history, culture, and lives over the course of his four-decade career," the Art Institute says.

"A superbly gifted draftsman and printmaker as well as a talented mural and easel painter, he developed a distinctive and labor-intensive approach to art making and remained committed to a representational style at a time when the art world increasingly favored abstraction.

"His work magnified the power of the black figure through scale and form, communicating universal human themes while also focusing attention on the lives of African Americans and the struggle for equality.

"This exhibition - the first major retrospective of White's work in more than 35 years - showcases an accomplished artist whose work continues to resonate amid today's national dialogues about race, work, equality and history."

June 8 - September 3.

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Harvest Talk.

Harvest Talk.jpg

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From Wikipedia:

"Charles Wilbert White was born on April 2, 1918, to Ethelene Gary, a domestic servant, and Charles White Sr, a railroad and construction worker, on the South Side of Chicago.

"Due to their poverty, his parents could not afford a babysitter while they worked, so his mother would leave him at the library. This caused a young Charles to develop an affinity towards art and reading at a young age.

"White's mother bought him an oil paint set when White was 7-years-old, which hooked White on art and painting.

"White also played music as a child, studied modern dance, and was part of theatre groups; however, he stated that art was his true passion.

"White's mother brought the young White to the Art Institute of Chicago, where he would read and look at paintings - developing a particular interest in the works of Winslow Homer and George Inness.

"During the Great Depression, White tried to conceal his art passion in fear of embarrassment; however, this ended when White got a job painting signs at the age of 14.

"Since White had little money growing up, he often painted on whatever surfaces he could find including shirts, cardboard, and window blinds.

"White later learned how to mix paints by sitting in everyday for a week on an Art Institute of Chicago painting class that was taking place at a park near his home in Chicago."

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Posted on May 16, 2018


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