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Release Date: February 7, 2011

National Gallery of Art Celebrates African American History Month with a Film and Lecture Program, Concerts, and Podcasts

Washington, DC—To celebrate African American History Month, the National Gallery of Art presents an array of offerings honoring this rich and diverse cultural legacy during the month of February. On February 13, film director Charles Burnett will introduce a screening of his acclaimed 1977 film, Killer of Sheep. This film will be preceded by his 1995 short, When It Rains. As part of the Gallery's popular Sunday night concert series, violist Marcus Thompson and pianist Judith Gordon will perform music by J.S. Bach, Schumann, James Lee III, and Enescu on February 13, while pianist William Chapman Nyaho will perform music of the African diaspora on February 16.

All programs are offered free of charge, with availability on a first-come, first-seated basis unless otherwise noted.

Film and Lecture Program

Killer of Sheep
preceded by When It Rains
February 13, 2:00 p.m.
East Building Auditorium

Award-winning director Charles Burnett in person
One of only a few contemporary filmmakers to be honored with a MacArthur Fellowship and the Paul Robeson Award for outstanding life achievement, American independent Charles Burnett introduces Killer of Sheep, his inventive cine-poem of urban life in Los Angeles' Watts neighborhood during the 1970s. With its minimal budget, nonprofessional cast, and finely honed script, Burnett's film was honored with an early nomination to the National Film Registry. (Charles Burnett, 1977, 35 mm, 81 minutes)

Preceding the feature is When It Rains, one man's affecting crusade through Watts to save a young mother from eviction. "Each person he sees registers like a separate solo in a twelve-bar blues."—Jonathan Rosenbaum. (Charles Burnett, 1995, 12 minutes)


Marcus Thompson, violist
Judith Gordon, pianist
February 13, 6:30 p.m.
Music by J.S. Bach, Schumann, James Lee III, and Enescu
West Building Main Floor, West Garden Court

William Chapman Nyaho, pianist
February 16, 12:10 p.m.
Music of the African Diaspora
East Building Auditorium

Saint-Gaudens' Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth Regiment
Gallery 66 in the West Building features the Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth Regiment, on long-term renewable loan to the National Gallery of Art from the National Park Service, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, NH. Created by the preeminent sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848–1907), the relief masterfully depicts Colonel Shaw and the first African American infantry unit from the North to fight for the Union during the Civil War. An online feature about the memorial is available at


The Image of the Black in Western Art
Panelists in order of participation: Sharmila Sen, general editor for the humanities, Harvard University Press; David Bindman, emeritus professor of the history of art, University College London and the Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University; Faya Causey, head of academic programs, National Gallery of Art; Alison Luchs, curator of early European sculpture, National Gallery of Art; Ruth Fine, curator of special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art; and Lou Stovall, artist

In a panel discussion recorded December 12, 2010, at the National Gallery of Art for the Washington launch of the landmark series The Image of the Black in Western Art, David Bindman, coeditor of the series , discusses with Harvard University Press editor Sharmila Sen the complex history and ambitions behind the series. When the expanded and revised series is completed by 2015, there will be 10 books in all, including two new volumes on the 20th century. Other members of the panel examine works made by or depicting people of African descent in the series and in the Gallery's collection. (46:15 mins.)

Books in the series are available for purchase in the Gallery Shop.

The Collecting of African American Art Lecture Series: A Historical Overview
Jacqueline Francis, independent scholar
In this podcast recorded on February 8, 2009, at the National Gallery of Art, Jacqueline Francis traces the origins of collecting African American art in the United States and the role of academic institutions, galleries, and specialized museums in supporting artists. Francis focuses on six distinguished private collections belonging to Barnett-Aden; Camille O. and William H. Cosby, Jr.; Walter O. Evans; David C. Driskell; Grant Hill; and Harmon and Harriet Kelley. Francis also provides an overview of institutional collecting by museums, private corporations, and universities. (59:51 mins.)

About Abstraction: A Conversation with Melvin Edwards, Sam Gilliam, and William T. Williams
Ruth Fine, curator of special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art, in conversation with artists Melvin Edwards, Sam Gilliam, and William T. Williams
On February 21, 2010, distinguished artists Melvin Edwards, Sam Gilliam, and William T. Williams joined Ruth Fine for a conversation about the role of abstraction in their work as well as the most important influences on their careers. (64:54 mins.)

The Art of Collecting
Texas-based collectors Harmon and Harriet Kelley and Deborah Willis, professor, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
Since 1987 the Kelleys have amassed an art collection that represents a kaleidoscopic view of African-American life and cultural history from the 19th to 21st centuries. In this podcast, recorded on February 22, 2009, at the National Gallery of Art, Willis speaks to the Kelleys about their passion and determination to build a collection that advances and preserves the legacy of African American art. (67:00 mins.)

Augustus Saint-Gaudens and the Shaw Memorial
Filmmaker Paul G. Sanderson III and Gregory C. Schwarz, chief of interpretation, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, NH
The monumental plaster model for one of the greatest works of American sculpture, Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth Regiment, is on view in the National Gallery of Art. In this podcast, Schwarz talks to Sanderson about the filmmaker's new documentary exploring the life and work of one of America's most renowned sculptors. (15:41 mins.)

Ritz Chamber Players
Program: Music by Dvorak, Mozart, and Villa-Lobos
The Ritz Chamber Players, the only all-African American professional chamber music ensemble, play masterworks of 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century chamber music in concert at the National Gallery of Art. Members of the ensemble performing in this podcast are Kelly Hall-Tompkins, violin, Amadi Azikiwe, viola, Tahira Whittington, cello, Judy Dines, flute, and Terrence Wilson, piano. (71:11 mins.)

Concert in Honor of African American History Month by Celeste Headlee and Danielle DeSwert
Program: Songs by William Grant Still for soprano and piano
Listen to music by William Grant Still, known as the dean of African American composers, performed by Celeste Headlee, W. G. Still's granddaughter, and Danielle DeSwert.One of the country's most celebrated and prolific composers, Still wrote more than 150 works, including symphonies, ballets, operas, chamber pieces, and vocal works. (52:03 mins.)
Concert Notes (PDF 88k)

Special Online Features on Romare Bearden
In conjunction with the 2003 exhibition The Art of Romare Bearden a number of Web features and resources are available:

Education resources:
Children's guide:

Online Tour—African American Artists: Collection Highlights
The Gallery's collection of American art includes some 287 works by African American artists. This online tour offers commentary on a selection of 22 paintings, works on paper, and sculpture ranging from a colonial portrait by Joshua Johnson of Baltimore to modern and contemporary pieces by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Horace Pippin, Martin Puryear, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Alma Thomas, Sam Gilliam, Barkley Hendricks, Willie Cole, Kara Walker, and Lorna Simpson. To begin the online tour, click on

General Information

For additional press information please call or send inquiries to:
Department of Communications
National Gallery of Art
2000 South Club Drive
Landover, MD 20785
phone: (202) 842-6353
e-mail: [email protected]
Anabeth Guthrie
Chief of Communications
(202) 842-6804
[email protected]

The Gallery also offers a broad range of newsletters for various interests. Follow this link to view the complete list.

Press Release