Charles C. Dawson

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Charles C. Dawson
BornJune 12, 1889
Died1981
NationalityAmerican
EducationTuskegee Institute, Alabama

The Art Students League of New York, New York

School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
Charles Dawson (back row, fourth from left) and class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, c. 1916. Standing to Dawson’s right is Archibald J. Motley, Jr. Professor Karl Buehr is seated in the front row, center. Photograph from the Charles C. Dawson Collection, DuSable Museum of African American History. A gift from Mrs. Mary R. Dawson, deceased.

Personal Life[edit]

Charles C. Dawson (June 12, 1889 - 1981) was an African American painter, printmaker, and illustrator. He studied art at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, the Art Students League of New York, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In order to afford to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Charles C. Dawson worked as a waiter in an art and literary club called the Cliff Dwellers Club.[1] There, he is said to have come into contact with members the club including Frank Lloyd Wright, James Henry Breasted, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Oliver Dennett Grover.[1]

Artistic Career[edit]

Charles C. Dawson wrote an unpublished autobiography titled "Touching the Fringes of Greatness."[2] In this autobiographical work, Dawson discusses his experiences as a student at the Tuskegee Institute, the Art Students League of New York, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as his artistic career and pursuits.[2]

The "New Negro" Movement in Chicago[edit]

The Negro in Art Week Exhibition was an active agent of Chicago's "New Negro" movement. Alain Locke hoped that the exhibition would showcase a "racial art" that expressed an individual identity for African Americans in both style and subject matter.[3] Charles C. Dawson designed the cover of the 1927 catalog for the Negro in Art Week Exhibition.[3] The cover included a full-length figurative representation of an Egyptian pharaoh as well as a West African sculpture juxtaposed with contemporary male and female figures in formal dress.[3]

Exhibited Artwork[edit]

In 1927, three paintings by Dawson were included in an exhibition of Modern Paintings and Sculpture hosted by the Chicago Art Institute as part of "The Negro in Art Week" in Chicago.[4] As listed in the show's catalog, the three paintings were The Quadroon Madonna, Brother and Sister, and Searchlights.[5] The exhibition ran from November 16 to December 1, 1927. Two commercial designs by Dawson were displayed in a related "Negro in Art Week" exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Applied Arts hosted by the Chicago Women's Club from November 16 to November 23 of that same year.[6] These commercial designs include a design for a poster and a design for an insurance policy heading.[6]

In 1940, Dawson exhibited a watercolor painting titled The Crisis in "The Art of the American Negro (1851 to 1940)," an exhibition held at the Tanner Art Galleries in conjunction with the historic American Negro Exposition in Chicago.[7] That exhibition, which included work by a range of African American artists including Hale Woodruff, Jacob Lawrence, Lois Mailou Jones, Elizabeth Catlett, Richmond Barthe, and Charles White, was on view from July 4th to September 2nd, 1940.[7]

Exhibition Organizer[edit]

Charles C. Dawson worked not only to promote his own artwork, but also worked to promote the work of his fellow African American artists by organizing and curating exhibitions of their work. In 1927, Dawson acted as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Fine Arts for the Exhibition of Primitive African Sculpture, Modern Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings, Applied Arts and Books.[8] In 1940, he was on the Western Jury of the Jury of Selections, identified as a painter from Chicago, for the Exhibition of the Art of the American Negro at the Tanner Art Galleries in Chicago, Illinois.[7] For the same exhibition, he also served on the Jury on Awards and the National Committee on Art.[7]

Published Art Work[edit]

In 1933, Dawson published a children's book that he both wrote and illustrated, titled ABC's of Great Negroes.[9] The book consists of 26 linoleum prints portraying major figures in black history.[9] Each print is accompanied by a brief text describing major accomplishments and some biographical information on the depicted individual. Frederick Douglass, Dr. George W. Carver, and Meta Warrick Fuller are three notable African Americans included in the book.[9] Some historical figures include Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu Cheops, Egyptian Princess Nefert, and Empress of Ethiopia Zaudita (Zewditu).[9] Each print included in the text consists of a portrait, the individual's name, a title or accomplishment, and usually the letters "CCD" for "Charles C. Dawson".[9]

Selected Works/Images[edit]

  • O Sing a New Song, (lithograph), ca. 1933, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
  • Page from ABC's of Great Negroes , 1933, (Dawson Publishers) featuring Booker T. Washington, Art Institute of Chicago
  • Cover of The Negro in Art Week, 1927, November 16-23: Exhibition of Primitive African Sculpture, Modern Paintings, Sculpture and Drawing, Applied Art and Books, Chicago: Chicago Woman's Club (ex. cat.)

Selected Exhibitions[edit]

  • 1927 Exhibition of Primitive African Sculpture, Modern Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings, Applied Arts and Books, Chicago Art Institute and Chicago Women's Club, Chicago
  • 1940 Exhibition of the Art of the American Negro, Tanner Art Galleries, Chicago

Selected Collections[edit]

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
  • DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago, Illinois

External Links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Schulman, Daniel (2004). "'White City' and 'Black Metropolis': African American Painters in Chicago, 1893–1945". Chicago Modern, 1893–1945: Pursuit of the New. Chicago: Terra Museum of American Art and Terra Foundation for the Arts. p. 40.
  2. ^ a b Schulman, Daniel (2004). "'White City' and 'Black Metropolis': African American Painters in Chicago, 1893–1945". Chicago Modern, 1893–1945: Pursuit of the New. Chicago: Terra Museum of American Art and Terra Foundation for the Arts. p. 45.
  3. ^ a b c Schulman, Daniel (2004). "'White City' and 'Black Metropolis': African American Painters in Chicago, 1893–1945". Chicago Modern, 1893–1945: Pursuit of the New. Chicago: Terra Museum of American Art and Terra Foundation for the Arts. p. 46.
  4. ^ The Negro in Art Week, November 16-23: Exhibition of Primitive African Sculpture, Modern Paintings, Sculpture and Drawing, Applied Art and Books. Chicago: Chicago Woman's Club (ex. cat.). 1927. p. 26.
  5. ^ The Negro in Art Week, November 16-23: Exhibition of Primitive African Sculpture, Modern Paintings, Sculpture and Drawing, Applied Art and Books. Chicago: Chicago Woman's Club (ex. cat.). 1927. p. 26.
  6. ^ a b The Negro in Art Week, November 16-23 : Exhibition of Primitive African Sculpture, Modern Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings, Applied Art and Books. Chicago: Chicago Women’s Club (ex. cat.). 1927. p. 27.
  7. ^ a b c d Exhibition of the Art of the American Negro 1851-1940. Chicago (ex. cat.): Tanner Art Galleries: American Negro Exposition. 1940.
  8. ^ The Negro in Art Week, November 16-23: Exhibition of Primitive African Sculpture, Modern Paintings, Sculpture and Drawing, Applied Art and Books. Chicago: Chicago Woman's Club (ex. cat.). 1927.
  9. ^ a b c d e Dawson, Charles C. (1933). ABC's of Great American Negroes. Chicago: Dawson Publishers.