Charles White: A Retrospective

Yale Univ. Jun. 2018. 248p. ed. by Sarah Kelley Oehler & Esther Adler. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780300232981. $50. FINE ARTS
OrangeReviewStarCurators Oehler (American art, Art Inst. of Chicago; They Seek a City: Chicago and the Art of Migration, 1910–1950) and Adler (drawings & prints, MoMA; Charles White: Black Pope) have assembled a first-rate catalog accompanying a traveling retrospective spanning the prolific career of American artist Charles White (1918–79), the "foremost artist of the Black Arts Movement." Engaging essays recount White's life, his allies, and his influences, from his self-education as a child reading in a public library about black antiquity to peaceful activism manifested in his figurative artwork to educator marking his place in history. Experts interpret the techniques and themes of White's realistic narratives, including his contribution to black feminism by portraying the beauty of everyday women. But the revelations to readers are the potent images that speak for themselves. This catalog is packed with exceptional reproductions of drawings, prints, murals, and photographs shared publicly for the first time.
VERDICT Scholars and artists alike will discover White's bold talents in this well-documented exploration of an artist whose powerful messages still speak to us loud and clear.
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