David Driskell’s Icons of Nature and History at the PMA

David Driskell’s Icons of Nature and History

Woman with Flowers, 1972
Oil and collage on canvas, 37 1/2 x 38 1/2 inches
Art Bridges, Bentonville, Arkansas, AB.2018.3. © Estate of David C. Driskell

The Portland Museum of Art (PMA) is now hosting a unique art exhibition that surveys seven decades of David Driskell’s painterly practice, from the 1950s to 2020. Titled “David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History,” it showcases the artist’s inheritances from his home and family, his formative education at the Catholic University of America, Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, and Howard University, as well as the influence of his sojourns to South America, Africa, and Europe. The exhibit is on view at the PMA through September 12, 2021.

David Driskell’s Icons of Nature and History at the PMA

David Driskell (1931-2020) was a prominent American artist, curator, and scholar, known for his valuable contributions in establishing African-American art as a distinctive field of study. His work both as a teacher and as an artist inspired, and still inspires, artists and art collectors alike.

Throughout his artistic career, David Driskell created a wide range of paintings, drawings, collage art, and prints, often combining different media and styles. His art is quite challenging to categorize due to its diversity, but what remains constant in his work is the artist’s commitment to a symbolic form that elevates the spirit and the mind above that existing in the physical world. This is how David Driskell’s ‘icons’ were born.

David Driskell’s Icons of Nature and History

Homage to Romare, 1976
Collage and gouache on Masonite, 23 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment, 2017.3. Photograph by Travis Fullerton. © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. © Estate of David C. Driskell

“David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History” is a survey of Driskell’s work, which invites visitors to see the world through the artist’s eyes. This unique exhibition moves the center of critical art history to Washington, DC, Nashville, Talladega, Falmouth, and Hyattsville – all major places where David Driskell lived and worked, allowing us to look at American art more comprehensively.

David Driskell’s Icons of Nature and History

Flowing Like a River, 1996–97
Collage and gouache on paper, 25 x 30 inches
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Caroline Thomas Fund and Harold A. and Ann R. Sorgenti Fund for African-American Art, 2005.20. Photograph by Barbara Katus. © Estate of David C. Driskell

“David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History” was co-organized by the Portland Museum of Art and the High Museum of Art, with the support of The Phillips Collection. The exhibit features a truly amazing collection of Driskell’s artworks gathered from private collections, museums, and the artist’s estate, offering visitors a memorable art journey of immeasurable beauty and grace. Don’t miss it!