Charles Henry Alston
At various times in his career, Alston worked as a sculptor, a painter, a cartoonist, and a graphic illustrator in publishing. During World War II, he worked at the Office of War Information and Public Information, creating cartoons and posters to mobilize the black community to join in the American war effort. He taught at the City University of New York from 1970 to 1977. His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Detroit Institute of Arts.
The diversity of Alston’s style reflects influences ranging from Egyptian and Oceanic art to more contemporary artistic styles like Cubism and Abstract Expressionism. However, his figures characteristically maintain a sculpture like quality derived from his earlier studies in African sculpture. His subjects, however, were derived mainly from the experiences of his life and time. As such they deal with the toils and triumphs of African Americans in the decades of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Alston states, “As an artist . . . I am intensely interested in probing, exploring the problems of color, space and form, which challenge all contemporary painters. However, as a black American . . . I cannot but be sensitive and responsive in my painting to the injustice, the indignity, and the hypocrisy suffered by black citizens.”
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