HEMPHILL Presents Elizabeth Catlett & Benny Andrews

By Editorial Team on September 12, 2016

Wed, 14 September 2016 - Sat, 29 October 2016

Photo courtesy of HEMPHILL.
Benny Andrews, Spring Maiden, 1963, oil and collage on canvas, signed lower right, 30″ x 20″, Art © Estate of Benny Andrews/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.
Opening Reception: Wednesday, September 14 from 6pm to 8pm


There is no denying the formal achievement of Modern art. Some see a simultaneous loss of effective social commentary as Modernism advanced through the various abstractionists’ adventures in painting and sculpture. The works of certain mid 20th Century African American artists, such as Elizabeth Catlett and Benny Andrews, contradict this notion. These artists utilized the formal strength of modernism to advance and articulate their strong socio-political views. Despite their powerful blending of abstract expression and representational content, both artists were ignored or openly discouraged by the art world establishment. Catlett was forced to leave the United States in order to voice her political beliefs and Andrews was discouraged by his dealer from depicting black themes. Without hesitation, these two artists demonstrated a determination and capacity to address the substance of a people. They each asserted the validity of their own lives and the humanity around them, communicating a spiritual dignity that still resonates today. We feel fortunate and proud to have the opportunity to present the paintings of Benny Andrews and the sculpture of Elizabeth Catlett, two modern masters, to our audience.

Elizabeth Catlett & Benny Andrews is presented in celebration of the Grand Opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. In addition to the works on view by Catlett and Andrews we have gathered other pieces by historically important African American artists, including works by Margaret Burroughs, Herbert Gentry, Sam Gilliam, James Wells, Walter Williams and Alma Thomas. These additional works may be seen upon request.

Gallery Hours:

  • Tuesday–Saturday: 10am–5pm
  • and by appointment

HEMPHILL is located at 1515 14 St. NW. For more information visit www.hemphillfinearts.com.