Celebrating Black History Month: African-American contemporary artists of note

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Trenton Doyle Hancock

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Trenton Doyle Hancock (b. 1974 in Texas)
Influenced equally by the history of painting as by the pulp imagery of pop culture, Texas-born Trenton Doyle Hancock transforms traditionally formal decisions—such as the use of color, language and pattern—into opportunities to build narrative, develop sub-plots and convey symbolic meaning. (more information)

Ellen Gallagher (b. 1965 in Rhode Island)
In 2000 Gallagher was awarded the American Academy Award in Art, and has participated in the 2003 Venice Biennale. Gallagher will present an exhibition of new and recent work at Hauser & Wirth London from March 14 to May 3, 2014. This exhibition coincides with Gallagher's touring museum exhibition 'AxMe,' which opens at the Haus der Kunst, Munich on 28 February 2014. (more information)

Kerry James Marshall (b. 1955 in Alabama)
Often cited as one of the greatest painters of his generation, Marshall frequently references racial issues in his work. "I think the primary thing my work does is establish a black presence. On some level that’s really all you can expect it to do." (more information)

Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012)
In a career spanning more than 70 years, Elizabeth Catlett has created sculptures that celebrate the heroic strength and endurance of African-American and Mexican working-class women. (more information)

Andres Serrano (b. 1950 in New York)
Perhaps best known for his notorious photograph "Piss Christ," Serrano started as an assistant art director in an advertising agency in the early 1980s. Since then he continues to exhibited his often controversial work sometimes depicting bodily fluids and referencing taboo subjects in the world. (more information)

Kara Walker (b. 1969 California)
Kara Walker is known for her candid investigation of race, gender, sexuality and violence through silhouetted figures that have appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide."One of my earliest memories involves sitting on my dad’s lap in his studio in the garage of our house and watching him draw. I remember thinking: ‘I want to do that, too,’ and I pretty much decided then and there at age 2 1/2 or 3 that I was an artist just like Dad." —Kara Walker (more information)

Robert Colescott (1925 - 2009)
Born in California, Colescott studied with Fernand Léger in Paris before coming to prominece in the United States with colorful paintings that reflect his experiences as an African American. Colescott went on to become the first black artist to represent the United States in a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale, in 1997. (more information)

Gary Simmons (b. 1964 in New York) (complete)
A widely-acclaimed young artist who came to prominence in the late 80s, Simmons' work in drawing and sculpture deals extensively with black identity and with imagery inspired by American popular culture, from cartoons to vernacular architecture. (more information)

Julie Mehretu (b. 1970 in Ethiopia)
Mehretu's African father and American mother left Ethiopia in 1977 to live in Michigan. Mehretu currently lives and works in New York City where she has become well known for her large-scale paintings and drawings. Mehretu has received numerous awards including the The MacArthur Award in 2005. (more information)

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