When Chicagoan Kerry James Marshall’s painting Past Times sold for $21.1 million this May at Sotheby’s, it stunned the art world. The purchase was the highest price ever paid for an artwork by a living African-American artist. It also culminated Marshall’s successful tour for his retrospective Mastry, which was exhibited in several of the country’s major art museums, including Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

It seems only fitting that one of Marshall’s most influential teachers is finally getting his due.

Presented on the 100th Anniversary of his birth, the works of Charles White- one of the most prominent African- American artists of the Black Renaissance- are now on exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Charles White: A Retrospective is a comprehensive collection of the artist’s most important paintings, drawings and prints, spanning his 40 year career. Born in 1918 on Chicago’s South side, the gifted painter, printmaker and master draftsman used his art to address critical social and political themes of the times. He was equally committed to ensuring dignity in the portrayal of African-American figures. His subjects, who were almost exclusively African-American, depict incredible depth, substance and humanity.

As Kerry James Marshall puts it, “Nobody makes black figures as powerful as Charles White. Nobody.”

A few works from the 100-piece collection:


Image of Untitled (1950)




Harvest Talk (1953)


Sojourner Truth Booker T Washington (1943)

Charles White: A Retrospective will run through September 3 at the Art Institute of Chicago. It will travel next to New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in spring 2019.  Go see this important exhibition while you can.


Write A Comment