Prendergast Archive and Study Center

Prendergast Archive and Study Center

Prendergast and African Americans

A work by Charles Prendergast was featured in a show at the museum through April 22nd 2012, African Americans and the American Scene. The show was curated by Dalila Scruggs (in photo above by Petegorsky/Gipe), the Mellon Curatorial Fellow for Diversity in the Arts at the museum. The work that appeared in the show by Charles Prendergast is titled Florida Grove, ca. 1946-1947, and was made using tempera on gessoed masonite (95.4.31). The work is framed with a hand-carved frame made by Charles Prendergast. The work is pictured below.

Here is an excerpt from Dalila Scrugg’s exhibition brochure describing Charles Prendergast’s depiction of African American farmers in central Florida: “The flat, schematic style of drawing combined his interest in American folk art with a newfound fascination with Haitian art. Enthralled by the African American community, he felt that ‘They have more character, from an artist’s point of view, than a white man. The men dress in such a manly way – in real, pure colors. And what material for a sculptor, especially their faces, men and women both!’ As a privileged tourist in the Jim Crow South, Prendergast observed black labor from afar, drawing on what he perceived as racial difference as a source of artistic inspiration.”


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