African American art history in the early part of the 20th century recognized an important narrative that centered on recurring themes of family, religion, and urban life, drawing from memory and history. Patronage, such as that evidenced in the collections of Harmon and Harriet Kelley, and Guillermo Nicolas and Jim Foster, further emphasize the importance of cultural inclusion in the American Art canon.
One of the world’s leading authorities on African American art, David C. Driskell began his career as a painter, and has taught at Howard University, Fisk University, and the University of Michigan. He joined the staff of the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1977, and was honored in 2001 with the establishment of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora. Driskell’s writing has been published in more than 40 catalogues, and he curated the groundbreaking exhibition Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750–1950.
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