The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art

The Hyde Collection : 161 Warren St., Glens Falls, NY  12801

The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper, a traveling exhibition celebrating African American artists and their contributions to U.S. art and culture, is now on view at The Hyde Collection. Curated from the extensive collection of Harmon and Harriet Kelley, featured artists include Grafton Tyler Brown, the first documented professional graphic artist on the West Coast, contemporary printmakers like Margo Humphrey, and internationally known figures Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, and Henry Ossawa Tanner. Presented by The Hyde Collection and organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, the exhibition is on view starting January 28 through April 23. 

 “It’s a very special collection of nearly 70 watercolors, pastels, drawings, and a variety of print media by leading African American artists,” said Derin Tanyol, The Hyde Collection’s Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art. “The show chronicles the lives of Black Americans through a series of representative themes: labor, landscape and cityscape, portraiture, community, and entertainment. The Kelleys’ curatorial vision focuses on uplifting, positive themes, although a small section of the show confronts racism and injustice. Sourced from one of the most celebrated private collections of African American art, this exhibition is sure to provide visitors with a rich and thought-provoking experience.” 

This exhibition provides an opportunity for visitors to experience the master graphics of African American art on a large scale. The majority of the works were produced in the 1930s and 40s, during the Great Depression, when the Works Progress Administration of the Federal Arts Project employed many artists. Many works depict rural and urban settings in a bold post-cubistic style, including scenes showing factory workers, dockworkers, farmers, bridge builders, and road menders. 

By the 1950s, some African American artists began to favor Abstract Expressionism, choosing nonrepresentational content over traditional imagery. Other artists, including Charles White, Jacob Lawrence, John Biggers, Claude Clark, and Elizabeth Catlett—all of whom are featured in this exhibition—defied this influence and continued their figurative exploration of African American themes. 

The 1960s and early 70s gave birth to the politically motivated and African-inspired art of the Civil Rights period. While African Americans had always made valuable contributions to American art, they were hardly recognized due to the brutalities of slavery and the systemic racism of Jim Crow laws. Despite continued oppression, African American artists continued to create works that would reflect their experiences. Among the civil rights-themed works in this exhibition are a 1963 lithograph by Jacob Lawrence titled Two Rebels and Elizabeth Catlett's well-known print, Malcolm X Speaks For Us from 1969. 

More recent artists such as Margo Humphrey, Alison Saar, Robert Colescott, Lionel Lofton, Charles Criner, and self-taught artists Bert Long and Ike E. Morgan bring a contemporary perspective to this extensive exhibition.

Artists include:

Ron Adams (born 1934) 

Benny Andrews (1930-2006) 

John Thomas Biggers (1924-2001) 

Robert Hamilton Blackburn (1920-2003) 

Elmer W. Brown (1909-1971) 

Hilda Wilkerson Brown (1894-1981) 

Grafton Tyler Brown (1841-1918) 

Calvin Burnett (1921-2007) 

Margaret Taylor Burroughs (1917-2010) 

Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012) 

Claude Clark (1915-2001) 

Robert Colescott (1925-2009) 

Eldzier Cortor (1916–2015) 

Ernest T. Crichlow (1914-2005) 

Charles Criner (born 1945) 

Mary Reed Daniel (1946-2006) 

Richard W. Dempsey (1909-1987) 

Aaron Douglas (1899-1979) 

William McKnight Farrow (1884-1967) 

Allan Randall Freelon (1895-1960) 

Rex Goreleigh (1902-1987) 

Margo Humphrey (born 1942) 

William H. Johnson (1901-1971) 

Sargent Johnson (1888-1967) 

Lawrence Arthur Jones (1900-1996) 

Loïs Mailou Jones (1905-1998) 

Paul F. Keene, Jr. (1920-2009) 

Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) 

Norman Lewis (1909-1979) 

Lionel Lofton (born 1954) 

Bert Long (1940-2013) 

Whitfield Lovell (born 1959) 

Sam Middleton (1927–2015) 

Ike E. Morgan (born 1958) 

William Pajaud (1925-2005) 

Alison Saar (born 1956) 

Charles Louis Sallée, Jr. (1911-2006) 

William E. Scott (1884-1964) 

Charles Sebree (1914-1985) 

Albert A. Smith (1896-1940) 

William E. Smith (1913-1997) 

Raymond Steth (1916-1997) 

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) 

Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891-1978) 

Dox Thrash (1893-1965) 

James Lesesne Wells (1902-1993) 

Charles White (1918-1979) 

Walter Williams (1920-1998) 

John Woodrow Wilson (1922-2015) 

Hale Aspacio Woodruff (1900-1980)


The Hyde Collection is open from 10:00 am -5:00 pm, Thursday through Sunday. For more information, visit https://www.hydecollection.org/. Tickets can be purchased at the door. 

About Harmon & Harriet Kelley 

Harriet Kelley is a renowned collector and sponsor of African American art. She and her husband, Dr. Harmon Kelley, have accumulated one of the leading collections of African American art in the United States. The Kelleys collected the majority of their works over the course of a mere decade beginning in 1987—a time at which works by acclaimed African American artists had become scarce in the art market. They were inspired to begin collecting after viewing an exhibition of African American art at the San Antonio Museum of Art. 

About The Hyde Collection 

The Hyde is one of the Northeast’s exceptional small art museums with distinguished European and American art collections. Comparable to that of a major metropolitan museum, the core collection, acquired by Museum founders Louis and Charlotte Hyde, includes works by such artists as Sandro Botticelli, El Greco, Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Edgar Degas, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and American artists Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, and James McNeill Whistler. The Museum's Modern and Contemporary art collection features works by artists including Josef Albers, Dorothy Dehner, Sam Gilliam, Adolph Gottlieb, Grace Hartigan, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, George McNeil, Robert Motherwell, Ben Nicholson, Robert Rauschenberg, and Bridget Riley. Today, The Hyde offers significant national and international exhibitions and a packed schedule of events that help visitors experience art in new ways. Visit Hydecollection.org 

Throughout the years, the Museum has expanded considerably from the historic Hyde home. It includes a modern museum complex with an auditorium, classroom, five galleries, and a state-of-the-art storage facility.