Life Model: Charles White and his Students

Charles White Elementary School Gallery | 2401 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90057
February 16, 2019–September 19, 2019
Life Model: Charles White and his Students Exhibition Image

Presented at the original Otis Art Institute campus where Charles White was the first African American faculty member (now an eponymous elementary school and LACMA satellite), this companion exhibition to Charles White: A Retrospective illuminates the artist’s impact as a teacher. Beyond fostering technical skills, White urged his students to be “thinking artists” and hone distinct points of view. Indicative of this encouragement, the show features artwork in diverse media and modes of expression, alongside sketchbooks, photographs, and archival footage that illuminate his pedagogy.

For black artists in Los Angeles like Kerry James Marshall, Ulysses Jenkins, and Richard Wyatt, White represented a model for carving out a place in the racist art establishment. For others, his influence is most evident in their own work—the celebratory depictions of blackness in Corky McCoy’s album covers, Kent Twitchell and Eloy Torrez's portraiture, and the sociopolitical commentary in David Hammons and Judithe Hernandez’s work. Collectively, the assembled objects lend a fuller understanding of White’s legacy. One of the most important artists of his time, White cultivated some of the most significant artists of ours.

This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and curated by C. Ian White and Sarah Jesse.

The renovation of the Charles White Elementary School Gallery is generously supported in part by the Los Angeles County Quality and Productivity Commission through the Productivity Investment Fund. Exhibitions and education programs at the Charles White Elementary School Gallery are made possible through the Anna H. Bing Children's Art Endowment Fund. Additional support is provided by the Michael Asher Foundation.

Image: Kent Twitchell, Portrait of Charles White, 1977, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Benjamin Horowitz, © Kent Twitchell