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 Charles Eugene Shannon  (1914 - 1995)

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Lived/Active: Alabama/Ohio      Known for: modernist genre, rural figure, mural

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Ad Code: 3
Charles Eugene Shannon
from Auction House Records.
A Montgomery Corner
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Charles Shannon became a painter of southern black genre in a style of elongated, rhythmic figures, and sombre tones. He also earned a lasting reputation as the man who discovered, exhibited, and documented the folk artist, Bill Traylor.

Shannon studied for two years at Emory University and four years at the Cleveland School of Art. In 1935, he returned to Montgomery for a summer vacation and did numerous scenes of local life. In May, 1938, he had his first New York debut, which was at the Jaques Seligmann Galleries, but shortly thereafter, he decided to settle in his hometown of Montgomery where he felt most comfortable with the subject matter for his art.

He formed an art center, the "New South," with several friends to raise awareness of southern art, and it was here that he exhibited Bill Traylor's work, which he dedicated the later part of his life to preserving and documenting.

Patricia Phagan, 'The American Scene and the South', "American Art Review"

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:

Best known for his emotionally charged portrayals of African American life in the rural South, Charles Shannon was born in Montgomery, Alabama. He attended Emory University, before spending four years at the Cleveland School of Art. In 1935, during his third year in school, Shannon returned to his native state and built a log cabin studio on his uncle's farm in the small community of Searcy, forty miles south of Montgomery.  Though his plans to settle there permanently did not materialize, the summer's experience awakened his interest in Southern life and culture. "I began to feel," he later wrote, "what this country down here really meant to me. I worked with the Negroes in building my cabin . . . I went to their churches with them, to their dances and drank with them. My last year in Cleveland, filled with this newly realized beauty?I stayed out of school most of the year and painted Negroes and the Deep South from my imagination."

After graduating from college, Shannon traveled to Mexico to study the techniques of the Mexican muralists.  In 1936, he returned to Alabama and became an American Scene realist, creating genre paintings drawn from African American life in an expressionistic style of intense colors and elongated, rhythmic forms.

Shannon's work from 1936 through 1939 brought extraordinary recognition to the young artist, including one-man shows, favorable reviews in leading art magazines and newspapers, as well as prizes and awards. In the same period, Shannon won consecutive Rosenfeld fellowships to make a study of Southern types, the first of these scholarships to be awarded to a white Southern artist for work in the South.

This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from the Hicklin Galleries, LLC.

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