Charles Alston

Charles Henry Alston (November 28, 1907 – April 27, 1977) was an African-American painter, sculptor, illustrator, muralist and teacher who lived and worked in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem. Alston was active in the Harlem Renaissance; Alston was the first African-American supervisor for the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project. Alston designed and painted murals at the Harlem Hospital and the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building. In 1990 Alston's bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. became the first image of an African American displayed at the White House.Wikipedia

Alston's artistic style defies simple categorization and definition. His works range from detailed drawings concerned with realism, depth and modeling to extreme abstraction concerned with simplicity, flatness and pure expression. His art always remained to him an outlet for personal expression and growth, unbound by the restrictions of one particular genera. To Alston, "The whole creative thing is one of exploration of new or different areas," and in "developing or exploring an idea until you've gotten out of it everything you can, and beyond that, looking for unexplored areas." 

 The diversity of Alston's style reflects influences ranging from Egyptian and Oceanic art to more contemporary artistic styles like Cubism and Abstract Expressionism. However, his figures characteristically maintain a sculpture like quality derived from his earlier studies in African sculpture. His subjects, however, were derived mainly from the experiences of his life and time. As such they deal with the toils and triumphs of African Americans in the decades of the 50's, 60's and 70's. Alston states, "As an artist . . . I am intensely interested in probing, exploring the problems of color, space and form, which challenge all contemporary painters. However, as a black American . . . I cannot but be sensitive and responsive in my painting to the injustice, the indignity, and the hypocrisy suffered by black citizens." (

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