The African American painter, printmaker, and teacher Charles Wilbert White was born in Chicago. He attended The Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students League in New York City. White taught at the George Washington Carver School in New York from 1943 to 1945 and was artist-in-residence at Howard University in Washington, DC, in 1945.
The artist executed several murals in various cities throughout the United States, many under the sponsorship of the WPA. His work shows the influence of the styles of the leading Mexican muralists, reflecting his study with David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera at the Taller de Gráfica Popular in Mexico. In 1940 the Associated Negro Press commissioned a mural for the Chicago Public Library. He completed another at the Hampton Institute in Virginia in 1943 and, late in his career, at the Mary McLeod Bethune Library in Los Angeles. His works, as seen on this videodisc, frequently feature the strong, stylized forms of African-American figures set against flattened, faceted "walls." The fragmented settings may contain private and public imagery, for example urban structures that are small in scale, making the large figures all the more prominent, monumental, and expressive.
White spent most of his career in Chicago and Los Angeles. He died in 1979. White's work is included in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Newark Museum, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
[This is an excerpt from the interactive companion program to the videodisc American Art from the National Gallery of Art. Produced by the Department of Education Resources, this teaching resource is one of the Gallery's free-loan educational programs.]
Belafonte, Harry, James A. Porter, and Benjamin Horowitz. Images of Dignity: The Drawings of Charles White. Los Angeles, 1967.
White, Charles. Images of Dignity: A Retrospective of the Work of Charles White. Exh. cat. Studio Museum in Harlem. New York, 1982.
Barnwell, Andrea. Charles White. San Francisco, 2002.