by Alvia J. Wardlaw
A visionary artist and an influential teacher, Charles Alston (1907–1977) helped establish the Works Progress Administration’s Harlem Art Workshop and was the first African American to be named a supervisor for the WPA’s Federal Art Project. Alston’s early studies of African sculpture influenced the appearance of the human figure in all of his work, and his experience as an American of African descent led him to express through his painting “the injustice, the indignity, and the hypocrisy suffered by black citizens.” Alston was the first African American instructor at both the Art Students League of New York and the Museum of Modern Art and was a professor of painting at the City University of New York. Determined to assist artists who would follow in his footsteps, he cofounded Spiral, a renowned black artists’ alliance.
Alston’s work is in the permanent collections of many prestigious institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Butler Institute of American Art. Alvia J. Wardlaw is the author of The Art of John Biggers (Abrams, 1995), among many other publications, and a contributing author to Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts (Tinwood Books, 2002) and African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection (Merrell, 2005). She is curator of modern and contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
The sixth volume in the David C. Driskell Series of African American Art, Charles Alston pays tribute to a seminal artist whose accomplishments were extraordinary in their scope and profound in their influence. By Alvia J. Wardlaw; foreword by David C. Driskell. 128 pages, size: 8 1/2 x 11 in. 77 full-color and black-and-white images, chronology, and index. Smyth-sewn casebound book, with jacket.
Hardcover: 118 pages