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David Driskell Original Urban Oil Painting

David Driskell (1931 – 2020)

Artist, curator, scholar and distinguished professor emeritus David Driskell was born in Eatonton, GA in 1931. He completed the art program at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, in 1953. He went on to attend Howard University and received his MFA from the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. Prof. Driskell explored post-graduate study in art history at the Netherlands Institute for the History of Art in The Hague.

He began his career as an educator at Talledega College in 1955. In 1977, he joined the faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he remained for the rest of his career. Upon his retirement, the David C. Driskell Center was established to honor his legacy and dedication to preserving the rich heritage of African American visual art and culture. In 1976, Prof. Driskell curated the important exhibition, Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750- 1950, which was held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He has authored multiple exhibition catalogs throughout his career. 

As an artist, he worked in collage and mixed media -oil paint, acrylic, egg tempera, gouache, ink, marker, and collage on paper and on canvas (stretched and unstretched). Prof. Driskell has worked with the Experimental Printmaking Institute of Lafayette college and Raven Editions. The exhibition, Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David C. Driskell, held in 2009 at the High Museum of Art, GA was the first exhibition to highlight his printwork. 

Prof. Driskell’s work has recently been included in David Driskell: Artist & Scholar of the African American Experience, Oct. 2019 – Jan. 2020, Morris Museum of Art, GA; David Driskell: Resonance, Paintings 1965-2002, 2019, DC Moore Gallery, NY.

His work has also been featured in the following group exhibitions: Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition, Feb. 29 – May 24, 2020, Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.; Tell Me Your Story, Feb. 8 – May 17, 2020, Kunsthal Kade, Amsterdam; The Seasons, Nov. 16, 2019 – March 1, 2020, Nassau County Museum of Art, NY; and Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

The University of Maryland’s David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and African Diaspora is dedicating this academic year to commemorating its namesake’s life and work—combining teaching, art history scholarship and writing, and curation and the practice of art.

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