THE SOCIAL REALISM OF CHARLES WHITE

by Ariadna Zierold

charles wilbert white, social realist, artist, painting, african american, black and white, sepia, lithographs, upper playground

Born in Chicago, Charles W. White (1918 – 1979) is one of America’s most renowned and recognized African-American & Social Realist artists. Charles White worked primarily in black & white or sepia & white drawings, paintings, and lithographs. His artwork encompassed an incredibly skilled draftsmanship and artistic sensitivity and power that has reached and moved millions.

charles wilbert white, social realist, artist, painting, african american, black and white, sepia, lithographs, upper playground

His meticulously executed drawings and paintings speak of and affirm the humanity and beauty of African American people and culture. Common subjects of his artwork included scenes depicting African-American history in the United States, socio-economic struggles, human relationships, and portraits.

charles wilbert white, social realist, artist, painting, african american, black and white, sepia, lithographs, upper playground

He had several shows in Los Angeles, and was represented by the Heritage Gallery. White received numerous honors and awards and has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Smithsonian Institution, National Academy of Design, and elsewhere throughout the world. He was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1972. The Heritage Gallery had represented the artwork of Charles White from the early 1960s, when Mr. Horowitz provided Mr. White his first show in Los Angeles, California.

charles wilbert white, social realist, artist, painting, african american, black and white, sepia, lithographs, upper playground charles wilbert white, social realist, artist, painting, african american, black and white, sepia, lithographs, upper playground charles wilbert white, social realist, artist, painting, african american, black and white, sepia, lithographs, upper playground

 

Kara Walker’s Sugar Sphynx at Domino Sugar Factory opens May 10th

Artist Kara Walker’s first public installation, a 75 and a half foot tall, gigantic polystyrene sphinx covered in snowy white sugar,  opens May 10 in an abandoned Domino Sugar Factory hall. Although the demolition date hasn’t been set for that part of the factory, the tearing down of other parts of the waterfront factory began last year, soon to be replaced by sky high towers, a park and a school.

Commissioned by Creative Time, the artist has given the sphinx a grandiose title suitable to its monumental size and pose: A Subtlety or The Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.

As the title suggests, the fate of the factory is an integral part of the installation and she links it back to the ironies and  contradicting ethics of gentrification and race matters:

kara-walker-sphynx-sugar

The African-American facial features with the sphinx’s sugary whiteness says plenty about her bold intentions.  “She’s possessing two modes of being at once, supplicant with the large butt, but also self-possessed and in control and offering a kind of gentle ‘fuck you.’” -Walker

kara-walker-sphynx-sugar-2 kara-walker-sphynx-sugar-3 kara-walker-sphynx-sugar-4

kara-walker-sphynx-sugar-6 kara-walker-sphynx-sugar-7 kara-walker-sphynx-sugar-8 kara-walker-sphynx-sugar-9 kara-walker-sphynx-sugar-10

The exhibition runs from May 10th – July 6th, 2014. Photos by Tod Seelie for Gothamist and from GalleristNY

Kara Walker at Domino – May 10 through July 6 from Creative Time on Vimeo.