The first exhibition to highlight the prints of renowned artist and scholar David C. Driskell will be on view at the High Museum of Art
in 2009. “Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David C. Driskell” will open on April 21, and will remain on view through August 2, 2009. Featuring 80 prints which provide insight into Driskell’s artistic process and development, the exhibition will be presented in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of the High’s David C. Driskell Prize for achievement in African American art and scholarship.
Organized by the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park, “Evolution” premiered at the Driskell Center and traveled to the Wichita Art Museum before its exhibition at the High. It will subsequently travel to the Portland Museum of Art, where it will be on view October 27, 2009, through January 17, 2010.
“Since the High’s relationship with David C. Driskell first began in 2000, we have been significantly impacted by his contribution to the field of African American art and art history both internationally and here in Atlanta,” said Michael E. Shapiro, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director of the High. “The innovative work of Dr. Driskell is an inspirational force in the field of African American art. Through his remarkable prints, visitors this spring will be able to trace his development as an artist, as well as the evolution of African American art.”
Throughout his work, Driskell has drawn upon diverse sources while developing an artistic language of his own. “Evolution” will feature woodcuts such as the “Bakota Girl” series (1972-1974) and “Benin Woman” (1975), which reveal the influence of the artist’s travels to Africa and his desire to enrich his own connection to African culture. In “Bakota Girl 1,” Driskell draws inspiration from a Kota reliquary, while also referencing Byzantine Christian iconography through his use of gilt and jewel tones.
Over the course of his career, Driskell has explored the intersection between African sculpture, Modernist aesthetics, and the tradition of Western art. In his “Reclining Nude” (2000), Driskell references Matisse’s “Blue Nude” of 1906, reclaiming the African imagery which served as a key source of inspiration to 20th- century modernists.
Examples of Driskell’s self-portraits will also play an important role in the exhibition. Spanning more than thirty years, these works reflect the artist’s wide range of stylistic approaches, from the traditional pose and naturalistic representation of “Self Portrait” (1970), to “Pensive” (2004), in which Driskell transforms his own features into to those of an African mask.