Raymond Saunders (artist)

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Raymond Saunders (born 1934[1] Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,USA) is an American artist best known for his multimedia paintings, which incorporate assemblage, drawing, and collage.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Raymond Saunders received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1960. He then went on to earn his Master of Fine Arts degree from California College of Arts and Crafts in 1961.[3]


He lives and works in Oakland, California. Saunders was a former professor of Painting at California College of the Arts, Oakland, California.[2][1] He also donates his time to help spread the Visual process of art to many communities throughout the world.

Saunders works in a large variety of media, but is mainly known for work that encompasses painting and transversal media juxtaposition, sometimes bordering on the sculptural (as in Pieces of Visual Thinking, 1987) but always retaining the relation to the flat wall key to modernism in painting. Saunders' painting is expressive, and often incorporates collage (mostly small bits of printed paper found in everyday life), chalked words (sometimes crossed out), and other elements that add references and texture without breaking the strong abstract compositional structure. This lends a sense of social narrative to even his abstract work which sets it apart from artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Dine, or Cy Twombly, with which it has obvious affinities. Besides his painting, Saunders in known for his late 1960s pamphlet Black is a Color arguing against metaphoric uses of the concept 'black' in both the mainstream abstract and conceptual art world and Black Nationalist cultural writing of the time.[4]


Raymond Saunders has had numerous solo and group exhibitions from 1952 to the present. His work is a part of several important collections including the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor (San Francisco, California), Bank of America (San Francisco, California), the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento, California), Hunter College (New York, New York), Howard University (Washington, D.C.), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, New York), the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum (San Francisco, California), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, California), the Museum of Modern Art (New York, New York), the Oakland Museum of California (Oakland, California), the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, California), the Berkeley Art Museum (Berkeley, California), the Walker Art Center, (Minneapolis, Minnesota), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, New York).

His famous painting of Jack Johnson (1972, now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art) was used as the cover of Powell's Black Art and Culture in the 20th Century.[5] Saunders has received numerous awards since 1956.


  1. ^ "Raymond Saunders Biography". artnet. Retrieved 12 December 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Raymond Saunders". California College of the Arts. Retrieved 12 December 2015. 
  3. ^ "Raymond Saunders". askART. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  4. ^ Saunders, Raymond. Black is a Color San Francisco, undated (c. 1968).
  5. ^ Powell, J. Richard. Black Art and Culture in the 20th Century. Thames & Hudson, London, 1997.

External links[edit]