How much do you know about Charles White? Most people have never heard of him, which is why the MoMA’s stunning Chris White exhibition is that much more important. White—who VICE notes as one of the most successful and influential artists of the New Negro Movement—is known for is striking interpretations of prominent Black figures, including Mahalia Jackson and Harry Belafonte. Now, for the first time in over 30 years, his legacy is being illuminated from obscurity, available for the public to experience it firsthand.
“I think Charles White has long been overdue for a retrospective,” Esther Adler, associate curator at the MoMA, told VICE. After acquired Black Pope, which is regarded as one of White’s most popular works, the museum started to do more research, and “were struck by how limited contemporary scholarship is on him,” Adler added.
An immersive experience, the exhibit features exclusively recorded audio from Kerry James Marshall, who details how White influenced his work.
“Kerry is very clear about the lineage there,” Adler said. “I think he has long seen himself as a very vocal advocate for Charles White. Even before we did the show, I know a colleague at another institution said she had heard him mention Charles White at literally every talk she had ever heard him give.”
Charles White: A Retrospective—which was organized by Esther Adler, Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints; and Sarah Kelly Oehler, Field-McCormick Chair and Curator of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago— is open in New York until January 13, 2019. You can read more about the exhibit and check out photos by heading over to VICE.