Benny Andrews

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Benny Andrews
Born November 13, 1930
Died November 10, 2006
Nationality American
Education School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Movement expressionist style, Surrealism and Southern folk art

Benny Andrews (November 13, 1930 – November 10, 2006) was an American painter, printmaker, creator of collages and educator. He was born November 13, 1930 in Plainview, Georgia and died November 10, 2006.


Andrews was born into a family of ten on November 13, 1930 in small community called Plainview, Georgia. His mother Viola was very strict on her beliefs, and constantly promoted education, religion and most importantly, freedom of expression. George, Andrew’s father, also taught the same beliefs to his children. George was a self-taught artist, and produced many illustrative drawings that influenced Andrews. Although the importance of education was stressed, Andrews’s number of absences accumulated due to the days he was needed on the field. Andrews graduated in 1948,from Burney Street High School in Madison, making him the first in his family to graduate high school. Andrews attended Fort Valley College on a two-year scholarship. There was only one art program offered at the institution, due to poor grades and the end of his scholarship Andrews left and joined the U.S. Air force in 1950.

Training and teaching[edit]

Afterwards, the G.I. Bill of Rights afforded him training at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His first New York solo show was in 1962. From 1968 to 1997, Andrews taught at Queens College, City University of New York and created a prison arts program that became a model for the nation.

Social justice work[edit]

In 1969, Andrews co-founded the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC) an organization that protested the 'Harlem on my Mind' exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. They protested the fact that no African-Americans were involved in organizing the show. The BECC then persuaded the Whitney museum to launch a similar exhibition of African American Artists, but later boycotted that show as well for similar reasons.[1] In 2006, he traveled to the Gulf Coast to work on an art project with children displaced by Hurricane Katrina.[2]

He was the director of visual arts for the National Endowment for the Arts from 1982 to 1984.


Benny Andrews was a figural painter in the expressionist style who painted a diverse range of themes of suffering and injustice, including The Holocaust, Native American forced migrations, and most recently, Hurricane Katrina. Other influences on his work include Surrealism and Southern folk art. His work hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Family life[edit]

Andrews' wife of 20 years is artist Nene Humphrey. Andrews has three children. He died of cancer, age 75.


External links[edit]