Charles McGee (painter)

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Charles McGee
Charles McGee2007.JPG
Charles William McGee

15 December 1924

Charles McGee (born 1924 in Clemson, South Carolina) is an American artist.

Early life and education[edit]

Charles McGee was born December 15, 1924 into a family of sharecroppers. While helping his grandfather tend the land, "he observed firsthand the order and harmony that exists within nature." [1] He had no formal schooling until moving to Detroit at age 10,[2] where he found that "everything was on the move and it hasn’t slowed down yet."[3] in 2017 he observed, "I learned something not being in school — because life is school . . .I learn something every time I move. Every time I go around a corner, something new is revealed to me.”[1]

As a boy, McGee attended art classes at the McGregor Public Library in Highland Park.[4]

Military Service[edit]

McGee served in the Marine Corps during World War II.[2]

Detroit as a creative setting[edit]

McGee took advantage of the GI Bill to attend classes at the Society of Arts and Crafts, now the College for Creative Studies.[1] According to the Kresge Foundation, "McGee developed an unwavering loyalty to the city and its residents, and endowed it with much of his artistic energy and artwork. 'Detroit really has been a heaven for me,' McGee explains. 'It has given me dignity and treated me with respect.'”[5]

Awards and Recognition[edit]

In 2008, McGee was named the first Kresge Eminent Artist.[5] Administered by the College for Creative Studies, this award honors one Detroit artist each year for professional achievements, cultural contributions, and commitment to the local arts community.[5]

In early 2019, Michigan Legacy Art Park announced that McGee would receive its 2019 Legacy Award "in recognition of a lifetime of achievements and influences as an artist, teacher, advocate and global citizen."[6]

Body of Work[edit]

McGee's paintings, assemblages and sculptures are held in U.S. and international collections, and are on permanent display at the Detroit Institute of Arts[7] and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

McGee's work is installed in public settings, including the William Beaumont Hospital of Royal Oak, Michigan and the Detroit People Mover Broadway Station.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Najor, Stephanie. "Force of Nature". Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  2. ^ a b Meis, Morgan (2017-07-22). "Charles McGee's Vibrant Art and the Beauty of Detroit". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  3. ^ Charles McGee: Metamorphosis and Kinetic Energy, an interview with Nick Sousanis,
  4. ^ "Charles McGee, Artist, Philosopher, Grandmont Rosedale Resident". Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  5. ^ a b c "Detroiter Charles McGee named first-ever Kresge Eminent Artist". The Kresge Foundation. 2011-05-04. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  6. ^ "2019 Legacy Award: Detroit Artist Charles McGee". Michigan Legacy Art Park. 2019-02-12. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-01-09.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Staff, Lester Graham, Stateside. "Renowned Detroit artist Charles McGee, 92, designs 11-story mural". Retrieved 2019-02-23.

External links[edit]