Edward Clark (artist)

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Edward Clark
Born (1926-05-06) May 6, 1926 (age 93)
Storyville, New Orleans, Louisiana
NationalityAfrican American
EducationThe Art Institute of Chicago
Known forPainting
MovementAbstract expressionism
Awards1972:National Endowment for the Arts

Edward Clark, also known as Ed Clark (born May 6, 1926), is an African American abstract expressionist painter and one of the early experimenters with shaped canvas in the 1950s.[1][2] Edward Clark stated:[3]

..all great artists can only do what they esteem to be right. No matter how it appears at first, it will always be beautiful.


Edward Clark was born May 6, 1926 in the Storyville section of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Military service in World War II[edit]

Edward Clark served In World War II in the US Air Corps, stationed in Guam.


Ed Clark studied from 1947 to 1951 in The Art Institute of Chicago with Helen Gardner and Louis Ritman. Under the GI Bill of Rights which financed the higher education of recruits, Clark took residence in Paris in 1952. He enrolled at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière where he studied until 1953.[4]

Selected solo exhibitions[edit]


Edward Clark returned to New York City in 1956. He and Ted Jones (painter) were the first Afro-Americans that actively participated in the New York City Tenth Street galleries. Clark had his first one-man show in 1958 in the Brata Gallery. After the show he soon returned to Paris where he continued to show.

Clark is the first Afro-American painter credited with working on a shaped canvas, an innovation that influenced contemporary art through the 1950s and 1960s. He is also known for his powerful brush stroke achieved with a push broom, large-scale canvases, and his vibrant use of color.[5] He arrives in Paris each summer and returns to New York City. He had number of well received exhibitions in both continents.

  • 1971: Donald Judd's Loft, New York City
  • 1972: Lehman College, New York City; 141 Prince Street Gallery, New York City; Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
  • 1974: South Houston, Gallery, New York City
  • 1975: James Yu Gallery, New York City
  • 1976: Sullivant Gallery, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
  • 1981: Citicorp Center, New York City
  • 1986: "Paris to New York, 1966–1986," G.R.N'Namdi Gallery, Birmingham, MI
  • 1989: Galerie Kasser-Bohbot, Hamburg, Germany
  • 1990: FIAC, Grand Palais, Paris, France; G.R.N'Namdi Gallery, Birmingham, MI
  • 1991: "The Search for Freedom: African-American Abstraction 1945–1975," Kenkeleba Gallery, New York City
  • 1996: "Explorations in the City of Lights: African-American Artists in Paris, 1945–1975," Studio Museum in Harlem
  • 1997: "Sweeps & Views; Clark & Cowans," Rush Arts Gallery, New York City
  • 2002: "Quiet as it's Kept," Christine Koenig Gallery, Vienna
  • 2003: "From Paris to New York," Parish Gallery, Washington, D.C.
  • 2007: "Ed Clark: For the Sake of the Search," Pensacola Museum of Art, Pensacola, Florida
  • 2009: "Masters for the First Family," Parish Gallery, Washington, D.C.
  • 2011: "Ed Clark, The Search: A Sixty-Year Retrospective," the N'Namdi Center of Contemporary Art, Detroit
  • 2012: "Louisiana Roots: Ed Clark Returns Home," Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans
  • 2013: "Blues for Smoke," Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City
  • 2014: "Unveiled," University of Maryland University College, Marlboro
  • 2014: "Ed Clark: A Thousand Lights of Sun," The Mistake Room, Los Angeles
  • 2014: "Ed Clark: Big Bang," Tilton Gallery, New York
  • 2015: "Ed Clark: Locomotion," N'Namdi Contemporary, Miami
  • 2015 Works on Paper, Greene Naftali, New York
  • 2016: "Ed Clark," N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, Detroit
  • 2017: Ed Clark: Paintings, Tilton Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2017: "Impulse," Pace Gallery, London
  • 2017: "Ed Clark," Weiss Gallery, Berlin
  • 2017: "Edward Clark: Paintings," Tilton Gallery, New York

Museums and collections[edit]

Ed Clark's paintings are included in the permanent collections of The Art Institute of Chicago; the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan; the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York City; the Metropolitan Museum in New York, NY; the Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY; the California Afro-American Museum in Los Angeles, California, the Kresge Art Museum at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan; the James E. Lewis Museum of Art at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland; the Museum of Solidarity in Titograd, Yugoslavia; the Museum of Modern Art in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil; the Centro de Arte Moderno in Guadalajara, Mexico; and The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, among others.

Recognition, critical response[edit]

In 2013, Clark was presented with the Art Institute of Chicago's Legends and Legacy Award, in recognition of what it called his "pioneering paintings."[6]

In 2014, upon viewing an exhibit of Clark's work at the Tilton Gallery, New York critic Barry Schwabsky wrote in The Nation, "He is, simply, one of the best living painters." He continued, "Paint as a literal, physical presence and as a trace of the artist's mental and physical activity becomes inseparable from the evocation of the glory of light."[7]

Reviewing a Museum of Modern Art show in 2017, New York Times critic Roberta Smith wrote that in a gallery that also included paintings by Willem de Kooning, Elizabeth Murray, Alma Thomas and others, she was most taken by "an effortless, thrilling abstraction full of floating light," an untitled work by Clark. She went on to say Clark has "devoted most of his long career to handling large brushes and gorgeous color with the matter-of-fact, quietly flamboyant flair seen here."[8]


  1. ^ Pattan, S. F. (1998) African American Art, New York: Oxford University Press
  2. ^ a b "American abstract expressionism of the 1950s : an illustrated survey : with artists' statements, artwork and biographies. p. 81."
  3. ^ "Forms of AbstractionG.R. N'Namdi Gallery 1991". Archived from the original on January 30, 2016. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
  4. ^ ‘’The Paris connections : African American artists in Paris’’ ISBN 0-936609-25-7
  5. ^ "The Joyful, Visionary Art of Ed Clark by Geoffrey Jacques, Black Renaissance (2007)". Black Renaissance. 2007. Retrieved February 23, 2010.[dead link]
  6. ^ "Legends and Legacy Award Honoring Ed Clark" (Press release). Art Institute of Chicago. October 2013. Archived from the original on May 21, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  7. ^ Schwabsky, Barry (May 12, 2014). "Sculpting with Color". The Nation. 298 (19): 37. ISSN 0027-8378.
  8. ^ Smith, Roberta (December 28, 2017). "MoMA Upends Collection to Celebrate Late Careers". The New York Times.


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