Charles White (1918–1979) taught drawing in Los Angeles from the mid-1960s until the end of his life, and mentored a generation of students. Among them is David Hammons (American, born 1943), who studied with White early in his career.
This exhibition, curated by Hammons, includes White's monumental work Black Pope (Sandwich Board Man)(1973), from The Museum of Modern Art’s collection, and a brush and ink drawing on blue prepared paper by the Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from the British Royal Collection. Created over 450 years apart, the two works share formal similarities and reveal a devotion to drawing by both artists, linking their lasting influence on future generations.
White and Leonardo also shared a more personal connection: both were born in the first half of April. With this in mind, Hammons commissioned Vedic astrologer Chakrapani Ullal to read both artists’ natal charts, also on view in the exhibition and discussed by Ullal on the accompanying audio guide. By presenting their destinies as written in the stars, Hammons shifts our attention from the gallery to the galaxy and asks us to consider commonalities between these two artists.
Appearing a year prior to the forthcoming MoMA exhibition Charles White: A Retrospective, this project begins the Museum’s consideration of White’s work and his legacy.