As a leading scholar and curator of African American art, David Driskell, who died of Covid-19 last April at 88, worked to carve a place in the mainstream for generations of artists who, he said, “wanted to prove to a skeptical world that they were as good as anybody.” As an artist himself, Driskell created exuberant paintings and richly detailed collages steeped in black art history. In February, some 60 of his works will go on view in his first posthumous retrospective, at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art. Driskell’s seven-decade career stretched from the dawn of the civil rights movement to our current era of political polarization, and social justice themes, perhaps inevitably, run through his canvases. Still, says Julie McGee, the show’s guest curator, Driskell understood the importance of seeking the beautiful and divine despite chaos and strife. As he once put it, “art is a priestly calling…that shows us life can be so beautiful.”
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