PAINTINGS BY BEAUFORD DELANEY, Edward Bannister, Lois Mailou Jones, and Laura Wheeler Waring have been added to the collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia. The works are part of a major gift from Constance E. Clayton, an arts advocate and former superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. Clayton donated 78 works to PAFA, nearly all of them by African American artists. The board of trustees approved the gift March 7.

 


LAURA WHEELER WARING (1887-1948), “The Study of a Student,” circa 1940s (oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches / 50.8 x 40.64 cm.). | 2019.3.69, Courtesy PAFA

 

The collection consists primarily of paintings and works on paper dating from the late 19th to late 20th centuries. There are also sculptures by Richmond Barthé, Augusta Savage, and one “attributed” to May Howard Jackson. Several works are by PAFA alumni—an undated charcoal portrait by Barkley L. Hendricks, a pair of circa 1910 and 1913 etchings by Henry O. Tanner, and a circa 1940s oil portrait of a woman in a red top with a blue flower in her hair by Waring.

Elizabeth Catlett, Eldzier Corter, Tom Feelings, Sam Gilliam, Palmer Hayden, William H. Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Dox Thrash, James Lesesne Wells, and Charles White, are also represented among the acquisitions.

Brooke Davis Anderson, director of PAFA’s museum, said in a statement, that the acquisitions “will allow our museum audiences to experience the entire arc of African American art history in the galleries at PAFA.”

David R. Brigham, president and CEO of PAFA, said: “I’m very excited about this opportunity. With this generous gift, PAFA continues to build on its long history and ongoing commitment to collecting and exhibiting African American art and artists. We share Dr. Clayton’s vision and it is ingrained in everything we do here at PAFA, from educating artists to exhibitions and public programs.”

“With this generous gift, PAFA continues to build on its long history and ongoing commitment to collecting and exhibiting African American art and artists.” — David R. Brigham, PAFA President and CEO

Clayton’s gift is the latest example of her dedication to celebrating and investing in the educational and cultural life of Philadelphia. She was the first woman and first African American to serve as superintendent of Philadelphia’s public school system (1982-1993).

A long-serving member on the board of trustees at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), Clayton has pushed for diversity in the museum’s collection, exhibitions, and curatorial staffing. She established the museum’s African American Collections Committee (2000) and her influence led to the organization of “Represent: 200 Years of African American Art” (2015), a major exhibition showcasing works from PMA’s collection. The Constance E. Clayton Curatorial Fellowship is a two-year paid appointment at the museum.

 


ROMARE BEARDEN (1911-1988), “Odyssey Series,” circa 1970s (silkscreen, 25 1/2 x 21 1/4 inches / 64.77 x 53.975 cm.). | 2019.3.4, Courtesy PAFA

 

In addition to Hendricks, Tanner, and Waring, widely recognized PAFA alumi, the acquisitions feature several other artists with connections to the city of Philadelphia, including:

    Samuel Joseph Brown Jr. (1907–1994) earned a master’s in fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania. He was the first African American hired at the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), and subsequently participated in the Philadelphia WPA. Described as a “master watercolorist,” his circa 1941 self-portrait is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    Humbert Howard (1915-1990) was born in Philadelphia. He initially studied at Howard University and then completed his senior year at the University of Pennsylvania. He later studied at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pa., and the International Academy of Arts and Letters in Rome. In the 1930s, Howard participated in the Philadelphia WPA. Find More

    Paul Keene Jr. (1920-2009) was born in Philadelphia. He called himself an “abstract realist.” Several works by Keene are in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A 1951 painting by Keene appears in the forthcoming African-American Fine Art Show at Swann Auction Galleries in April.

    Andrew Turner (1944-2001) was born in Chester, Pa., and graduated from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. In his bio, Turner states: “My paintings combine the drama inherent in seventeenth century Dutch painting with the brush work and the economy of the Impressionists.” He was also guided and inspired by jazz. Watch Video

    Richard J. Watson (1946- ) is a visual artist and musician. A PAFA alum, he focuses on representation and also makes collage works. Born in Badin, N.C., he is the exhibitions manager and artist-in-residence at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Watch Video

    Louis B. Sloan (1932-2008) was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the Fleisher Art School and PAFA. For 35 years, he taught still-life, landscape, portrait and figure painting classes at PAFA. Sloan also worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the conservation department, from 1961 to 1980. A decade ago, PAFA hosted “Louis B. Sloan: A Particular Vision,” an exhibition of his works. A self-portrait by Sloan featured in the exhibition sold at Swann Auction Galleries in 2009.

Hendricks (1945-2017), who was known for his portraits of confidently cool subjects, was among Sloan’s students. “Lou Sloan was one of my major influences at PAFA and when I heard he had died, I had a sinking feeling in my heart. I loved the man,” said Hendricks in 2008. “He was a friend and a fantastic instructor. I’ve always said that Lou was one of the best painters on the planet.”

PAFA plans to mount an exhibition of the gifted works in January 2020. Clayton said she was “delighted” her collection will be housed at PAFA, where it will be available to the public, particularly Philadelphia students and budding artists. CT

 

VIEW LIST of all 78 works gifted to PAFA

 


BEAUFORD DELANEY (1901-1979), “Untitled (abstract),” 1945 (oil on canvas, 18 x 13 inches / 45.72 x 33.02 cm.). | 2019.3.15, Courtesy PAFA

 


BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS (1945-2017), “Head of a boy,” no date (charcoal and pastel on paper, 17 x 13 inches / 43.18 x 33.02 cm.). | 2019.3.24, Courtesy PAFA

 


WILLIAM H. JOHNSON (1901-1970), “Folk Family,” 1939-40 (silkscreen, 18 x 13 7/8 inches / 45.72 x 35.2425 cm.). | 2019.3.28, Courtesy PAFA

 


LOIS MAILOU JONES (1905-1998), “Head of a Boy,” 1943 (oil on wood, 18 x 14 3/4 inches / 45.72 x 37.465 cm.). | 2019.3.29, Courtesy PAFA

 


AUGUSTA SAVAGE (1892-1962), “Gamin,” no date (plaster, 9 1/2 x 4 x 5 1/2 inches / 24.13 x 10.16 x 13.97 cm.). | 2019.3.38, Courtesy PAFA

 


CHARLES WHITE (1918-1979), “Dancing woman,” 1934 (graphite on paper, 10 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches / 26.67 x 19.05 cm.). | 2019.3.76, Courtesy PAFA

 


CLAUDE CLARK (1915-2001), “Men and Drill Press,” 1999 (oil on board, 17 x 14 inches / 43.18 x 35.56 cm.). | 2019.3.11, Courtesy PAFA

 


JOHN WILSON (1922-2015), “Mexican Woman,” no date (lithograph, 9 1/4 x 11 1/4 inches / 23.495 x 28.575 cm.). 2019.3.78, Courtesy PAFA

 

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