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 David Clyde Driskell  (1931 - )

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Lived/Active: Maryland/District Of Columbia      Known for: abstract figure painting-African American themes, non ob, graphics

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Ad Code: 3
David Clyde Driskell
from Auction House Records.
Fall Pines
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter of images based on nature and African-American art, David Driskell is also a scholar, curator, teacher, and collector of African-American art. He credits much of his interest and success to James A. Porter, an art history professor with whom he studied at Howard University.

Driskell was born in Eatonton, Georgia, into a sharecropper family who moved when he was age five to North Carolina in the Appalachian mountains. He lived there until 1951, when he began attendance at Howard University. His family had a tradition of artist creativity. His grandfather was a sculptor, carving ornaments from wood bark; his father, a Baptist minister, painted religious themes; and his mother was a quilter.

After college, he took a teaching job at Talladega College in Alabama, and in 1962, began teaching at Howard University until the 1970s when he took over the chairmanship of the art department until 1998 at the University of Maryland.

Driskell has come to be regarded as the world's foremost authority on black art in America. In recognition of his good work, he has received nine honorary degrees, curated more than 35 exhibitions of work by black artists including Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, and Elizabeth Catlett, and is the personal curator for actor Bill Cosby and his wife who have an extensive collection of Black-American art.

In 1972, he curated a major exhibition, "Two Centuries of Black American Art," for the Smithsonian Institution, and in 1996, he was the adviser to the White House curator on that collections first work by a black artist, "Sand Dunes at Sunset: Atlantic City," by Henry Tanner.

In addition to these activities, he has had many exhibitions of his own collection, which he houses in his Hyattsville, Maryland home, where he lives in a Victorian house with his wife, Thelma G DeLoatch.

In 2005, the David C. Driskell Prize was established at the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, "the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African-American art and art history. The award of $25,000.00 is intended for an individual in the beginning or middle of their career whose work is considered an important contribution to African-American art or history.

Sources include:
"ARTnews", May 2000
"Art Business News", February 2005

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

David Driskell is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Black American Artists

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