Refugees Sail in a Vessel to Good Times

Continuing our week with artists…

1. Robert Blackburn (1920-2003)

Born on December 10, 1920 in Summit, NJ to Jamaican parents, Blackburn grew up in Harlem. His artwork has always been more abstract and, in 1948, he opened up the Printmaking Workshop in New York City. In 1956, however, the shop was struggling financially and was saved by becoming a cooperative with annual dues. In 1992, he, Will Barnet and Chaim Koppelman received a New York Artists Equity Award for their service and dedication to the printmaking community. He died on April 21, 2003 in New York City and later that year, in September, the Great Hall of Cooper Union in New York City held an exhibition and memorial to honor him. (For more information, please visit here.)

Here is lithograph by Blackburn titled Refugees (1939):



And here is a painting titled Girl in Red by Blackburn (1950):



2. Ernie Barnes (1938-2009)

Ernest “Ernie” Eugene Barnes, Jr. was born July 15, 1938 in Durham NC during the Jim Crow era. He was introduced to art and classical music through his mother who was head of household staff for prominent Durham attorney Frank Fuller, Jr. She would bring him to work with her and he’d look through the art books and listen to classical music in the study. By junior high, he could decode many of the great masterpieces hanging in museums but he himself couldn’t visit them because he was black. Growing up, he often felt like an outcast and would find refuge in his art. He was found one day drawing by the high school weightlifting coach and former athlete who talked him into becoming a football player. Barnes would eventually go on to play professional football, but always had his hand in art. One of his signature styles is the elongation of the human figure. Also, a consistent and distinct feature in his art is that his subjects’ eyes are closed. In addition, he did numerous album covers for musicians such as Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. (For more information, please visit here and here.)

Here is the album cover for Marvin Gaye’s 1976 album Sugar Shack:



The album cover for B.B. King’s 2000 album Making Love is Good for You titled In Rapture:



Can’t you just hear the guitar playing? This is titled Good Times:



And some sports art:



3. Martin Puryear (1941- )

Born in Washington D.C. on May 23, 1941, Puryear works with wood, stone, tar and wire, and his art unites minimalism and traditional crafts, a medium in which he’s worked since his youth where he learned how to build guitars and furniture. He studied printmaking in Sweden in the 1960s and went to Yale in 1968 for graduate school where he studied sculpture. In 1978, he moved to Chicago for 12 years and it was during his time there that he began to get noticed internationally. His art is very impressive and psychological. (For more information, please visit here.)

Here is a sculpture Puryear built titled Ladder for Booker T. Washington (1996). It is made from wood; a single sapling split down the middle. Wow:



And hear is another sculpture by Puryear, titled Vessel made from pine, mesh and tar (1997-2002):



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