Charles White in his studio; unknown photographer. Image courtesy Charlotte Sherman, Director, Heritage Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.

Charles White was born in Illinois in 1918. He undertook artistic training at the Art Institute of Chicago and at the Art Students League in New York, and also spent some time at the Taller Grafica in Mexico. Though White enjoyed working in print and created the lithographs Portrait and Exodus II at Gemini Ltd in 1966, he is most widely recognised for his mural work, in particular the Hampton University mural The contribution of the negro to American democracy, painted in 1943.

As an African–American, much of White’s work was concerned with furthering the status of his people and questioning the racial divide in American society.
Emilie Owens

Further reading

Chronology
 

1918
Born, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

1937
Attends the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; employed by the WPA Federal Works Project, New York to paint mural, The contribution of the Negro to American democracy

1938
First solo exhibition at Paragon Studios, Cincinnati, Ohio

1939–40
Teaches at Southside Community Center, Chicago

1940
Receives award at American Negro Expo; receives commission for Chicago Public Library; exhibition, Howard University, Washington, DC

1942
Receives Julius Rosenwald Foundation Fellowship; exhibition, Art Institute of Chicago; moves to New York, studies at Art Student’s League; first of four solo exhibitions at ACA Gallery, New York City, New York

1943
Included in exhibitions, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts; Brooklyn Museum, New York City

1943–45
Teaches at George Washington Carver School, New York City

1944
Receives Julius Rosenwald Foundation Fellowship

1945
Teaches at Howard University, Washington, DC

1946
Solo exhibition, at San Francisco Museum of Art, California; receives Edward Alford award

1947
Moves to Mexico; studies at Taller de Gráfica Popular, Mexico City

1950
Moves to California

1952
Receives National Institute of Arts and Letters Grant; wins prize from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

1965
Receives Childe Hassam Award; begins teaching at Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles, California and continues in this position until his death

1966
Included in exhibition, First world festival of Negro arts, Senegal; completes editions of Portrait and Exodus II at Gemini Ltd., Los Angeles

1967
Illustrates Four took freedom (Doubleday: New York), included in exhibition at Palace of Culture, Warsaw, Poland

1968
Included in exhibitions, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; Hermitage Museum, Leningrad, USSR; Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, Norway; The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, USSR; illustrates Black history,(Doubleday: New York); receives City Council Award, Los Angeles

1969
Awarded Honorary Doctorate from Columbia University, New York City

1970
Included in exhibition, at La Jolla Museum of Art, California; included in exhibition, Five famous black artists, Boston Museum of Fine Arts; undertakes fellowship atTamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles

1971
Exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; included in exhibition, Three graphic artists, at Los Angeles County Museum of Art

1979
Charles White died in Los Angeles, California

Barbara Delano © Tyler Graphics Ltd., revised Kate Buckingham, 2006
This chronology provides an overview of selected biographical information, major solo and group exhibitions held within the artist's own lifetime.

Further information will be added to this site as the National Gallery proceeds with its research and documentation.

Last updated July 2014