Promises of Freedom: Selections from the Arthur Primas Collection

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Time Trip Part #2, 2003 © Courtesy of the Artist and California African American Museum
Promises of Freedom: Selections from the Arthur Primas Collection

600 State Drive
Exposition Park
Los Angeles, CA 90037
April 19th, 2012 - September 2nd, 2012
Opening: April 19th, 2012 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

downtown/east la
Tues-Sat 10-5; Sun 11-5
documents, graphics, works on paper, sculpture


This significant collection of African American Art assembled by Arthur Primas consists of paintings, sculptures, works on paper, graphics and documents which cover a period of one hundred and fifty years. Included in the exhibition are 72 works by more than 30 artists who brought forth magnificent art reflecting the African American aesthetic and the experiences of a people.

The earliest works in the Primas Collection go back to Toussaint L’Ouverture, the hero of the Haitian Revolution, to follow with a very important early painting by Edward Bannister, who in 1876 received one of the highest art prizes at the U.S. Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia. Many African American artists during this time were trained by various European artists and eventually traveled to Europe to study. Among them is worth mentioning Hale Woodruff, Aaron Douglas and Beauford Delaney.

The next period covered by the collection is the Harlem Renaissance. This cultural revolution initiated in the early 1920s brought forth an exuberance of art, music, literature and drama. A movement toward social realism and abstract formalism in art opened up paths of interpretation and expression in black art, with artists such as Charles Alston, Richmond Barthe and Aaron Douglas.

Many of the artists in this collection followed rapidly carrying on the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance including Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Charles White, John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Hughie Lee-Smith, Charles Searles, Bob Thompson, Richard Mayhew and Bennie Andrews. A more recent group of artists of great significance found expression in the growing Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s and the response of the Black community to events in that era. Artists from this period in the exhibition include Robert Colescott, Larry “Poncho” Brown, Brian Collier, James Curtis, and Howardena Pindell.

This exhibition was organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, California, in association with the Heritage Gallery, Los Angeles, California. Exhibition tour management by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA.