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Published 2 August 2018

Charles White

A Retrospective

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, United-States
Sunday 7 October 2018 - Sunday 13 January 2019 - Event ended.

“Art must be an integral part of the struggle,” Charles White insisted. “It can’t simply mirror what’s taking place. … It must ally itself with the forces of liberation.” Over the course of his four-decade career, White’s commitment to creating powerful images of African Americans—what his gallerist and, later, White himself described as “images of dignity”—was unwavering.

 - Charles White. Sound of Silence. 1978. Color lithograph on paper, 25 1/8 × 35 5/16" (63.8 × 89.7 cm). Publisher: Hand Graphics, Ltd. Printer: David Panosh. The Art Institute of Chicago. Margaret Fisher Fund. © 1978 The Charles White Archives
Preview thumbnail for artwork Charles White. Sound of Silence. 1978. Color lithograph on paper, 25 1/8 × 35 5/16" (63.8 × 89.7 cm). Publisher: Hand Graphics, Ltd. Printer: David Panosh. The Art Institute of Chicago. Margaret Fisher Fund. © 1978 The Charles White Archives
Preview thumbnail for artwork Charles White. Black Pope (Sandwich Board Man). 1973. Oil wash on board. 60 × 43 7/8″ (152.4 × 111.4 cm) The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Richard S. Zeisler Bequest (by exchange), The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art, Committee on Drawings Fund, Dian Woodner, and Agnes Gund. © 1973 The Charles White Archives. Photo Credit: Jonathan Muzikar, The Museum of Modern Art Imaging Services
Preview thumbnail for artwork Charles White. Missouri C. 1972
Preview thumbnail for artwork Charles White, “Banner for Willy J,” 1976.CreditCreditMr. and Mrs. Richard Wyatt Sr. © The Charles White Archives. Photo: Natalja Kent
Preview thumbnail for artwork “The Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America,” 1943.CreditCollection of the Hampton University Museum, Hampton, Va
Preview thumbnail for artwork “Bessie Smith,” 1950.CreditPrivate collection. © The Charles White Archives. Photo: © Museum Associates/LACMA
Preview thumbnail for artwork “J’Accuse #7,” 1966.CreditPrivate collection. © The Charles White Archives. Photo courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, N.Y
Preview thumbnail for artwork Charles White (American, 1918-1979). Love Letter III. 1977. Color lithograph. 30 1/16 x 22 5/8″ (76.3 x 57.4 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago. Margaret Fisher Fund. © The Charles White Archives/ © The Art Institute of Chicago
Preview thumbnail for artwork Charles White (American, 1918-1979), Gideon, 1951. Lithograph in black on ivory wove paper, printed by Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003), 338 x 260 mm (image); 509 x 390 mm (sheet). The Art Institute of Chicago, Margaret Fisher Fund, 2017.300 © The Charles White Archives Inc
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Using his virtuoso skills as a draftsman, printmaker, and painter, White developed his style and approach over time to address shifting concerns and new audiences. In each of the cities in which he lived over the course of his career—Chicago, New York, and, finally, Los Angeles—White became a key figure within a vibrant community of creative artists, writers, and activists.

White’s far-reaching vision of a socially committed practice attracted promising young artists, including many artists of color, and he became one of the 20th century’s most important and dedicated teachers. Acclaimed contemporary artists David Hammons and Kerry James Marshall were among his many students: as Marshall reflected, “Under Charles White’s influence I always knew that I wanted to make work that was about something: history, culture, politics, social issues. … It was just a matter of mastering the skills to actually do it.”

Charles White: A Retrospective is the first major museum survey devoted to the artist in over 30 years. The exhibition charts White’s full career—from the 1930s through his premature death in 1979—with over 100 works, including drawings, paintings, prints, photographs, illustrated books, record covers and archival materials.

Charles White: A Retrospective is organized by Esther Adler, Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints; and Sarah Kelly Oehler, Field-McCormick Chair and Curator of American Art, Art Institute of Chicago. Prior to its MoMA presentation, the exhibition will be on view at the Art Institute of Chicago from June 8 through September 3, 2018. Following its MoMA presentation, the exhibition will travel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where it will be on view Spring 2019.

The exhibition is supported at The Museum of Modern Art and at the Art Institute of Chicago by the Terra Foundation for American Art with The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

Major support for the New York presentation is provided by The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

Generous funding is provided by The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Exhibition Fund with major contributions from the Estate of Ralph L. Riehle, Alice and Tom Tisch, The Marella and Giovanni Agnelli Fund for Exhibitions, Mimi and Peter Haas Fund, Brett and Daniel Sundheim, Franz Wassmer, Karen and Gary Winnick, and Oya and Bülent Eczacıbaşı.
 - Charles White. Black Pope (Sandwich Board Man). 1973. Oil wash on board. 60 × 43 7/8″ (152.4 × 111.4 cm) The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Richard S. Zeisler Bequest (by exchange), The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art, Committee on Drawings Fund, Dian Woodner, and Agnes Gund. © 1973 The Charles White Archives. Photo Credit: Jonathan Muzikar, The Museum of Modern Art Imaging Services
 - Charles White. Missouri C. 1972
 - Charles White, “Banner for Willy J,” 1976.CreditCreditMr. and Mrs. Richard Wyatt Sr. © The Charles White Archives. Photo: Natalja Kent
 - “The Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America,” 1943.CreditCollection of the Hampton University Museum, Hampton, Va
 - “Bessie Smith,” 1950.CreditPrivate collection. © The Charles White Archives. Photo: © Museum Associates/LACMA
 - “J’Accuse #7,” 1966.CreditPrivate collection. © The Charles White Archives. Photo courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, N.Y
 - Charles White (American, 1918-1979). Love Letter III. 1977. Color lithograph. 30 1/16 x 22 5/8″ (76.3 x 57.4 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago. Margaret Fisher Fund. © The Charles White Archives/ © The Art Institute of Chicago
 - Charles White (American, 1918-1979), Gideon, 1951. Lithograph in black on ivory wove paper, printed by Robert Blackburn (American, 1920–2003), 338 x 260 mm (image); 509 x 390 mm (sheet). The Art Institute of Chicago, Margaret Fisher Fund, 2017.300 © The Charles White Archives Inc
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