His groundbreaking exhibition and publication Two Centuries of Black American Art is but one example of his pioneering scholarship that expanded our understanding of the prevalence of African sensibilities in American, Latin American, and European art. As an artist, intellect, and activist, Dr. Driskell held myriad community and institutional leadership positions that advanced the visual arts to include alternative creative practices. He championed an altogether new but restorative cultural revolution that captured and reflected not only the hot tenor of American race relations in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but also reclaimed and skillfully deployed the prowess of indigenous African artistry. As a teacher and administrator at Howard University and later the University of Maryland, he equipped successor generations with cultural pride, innovative technique, and a visual language through which to celebrate black cultural identity. Dr. Driskell’s work and artistry demonstrate masterful draftsmanship, exceptional intercultural competency, and unwavering commitment to public service. His full career spanned more than 60 years and is marked by forward facing achievements that continue to redefine the global art world today.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his many friends and colleagues. Our lives are better for having known him.
Johnnetta Cole, Director Emerita of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art gives her Reflections on the Life and Work of David C. Driskell