Established by the High Museum of Art in 2005, the David C. Driskell Prize in African American Art and Art History recognizes field-defining contributions to African American art by some of the leading scholars and artists from around the country. Named in honor of the late artist and scholar David C. Driskell, this prize is the first in the country to recognize the importance of African American art. Acknowledging Driskell’s own extraordinary gifts as both a historian and an artist, the prize annually alternates between awarding a practicing US-based African American artist and an art historian whose artistic practice or scholarly work makes an original and important contribution to the visual arts and study of African American art. The recipient of the prize receives $50,000 in unrestricted funds to use toward the furthering of their research or artistic practice.
The annual Driskell Gala honors the legacy of David Driskell and celebrates the prize winner who will be presented with their award. The arts event of the season, this gala brings together friends and patrons of the Museum from around the city and the country who support the High’s commitment to African American art and artists. Proceeds from this evening contribute to the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Restricted and Endowment Funds, which are used to support the acquisition of African American art, as well as exhibitions and education programs presenting African American artwork. The Driskell Gala is a critical revenue resource for the continued engagement of initiatives around African American art at the High Museum of Art.
Can’t Attend the Dinner?
You can still support the Driskell Prize. Whether you’ll be joining us and making an additional gift or simply supporting the Prize in your absence, thank you!
19th Annual David C. Driskell Prize Gala
David C. Driskell
June 7, 1931–April 1, 2020
“David C. Driskell has meant so much to so many. He was an artist, scholar, mentor, devoted husband, a dear friend and life trustee of the High Museum of Art. For 16 years the David C. Driskell Prize has recognized artists and scholars who like him, have created a body of work that continues to define the field of African American art. He was a beacon for young artists, and he generously shared so much of himself with so many. His passing leaves a void in our community, but we will continue to honor his legacy through our own dedication to the art and scholarship he championed. We send our sincere condolences to his family and all the artists and students he touched during his lifetime.”
—Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., Director
David C. Driskell was an artist and scholar whose work on the African diaspora spanned nearly seven decades. He was born in 1931 in Eatonton, Georgia, and kept roots here in the South even though he was based in Maryland, where he taught African American art history at the University of Maryland, College Park. The High Museum of Art’s relationship with Driskell began in 1977 when the Museum presented Driskell’s landmark exhibition, Two Centuries of Black American Art, the first traveling museum exhibition dedicated to works made exclusively by African American artists in the United States between 1750 and 1950. In 2000, the High presented Driskell’s concurrent exhibitions To Conserve a Legacy: American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection, both of which examined African American art within the broad historical context of modern and contemporary art in the United States.