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Past Exhibitions


Collage by David C. Driskell.

David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History

High Exhibition Dates:   February 6–May 9, 2021
Traveling Exhibition Dates:  
Portland Museum of Art from June 19 – September 12, 2021
The Phillips Collection from October 16, 2021 – January 9, 2022
Cincinnati Art Museum from February 25 – May 15, 2022

David Driskell (1931–2020) was one of the most revered American artists of his generation, long recognized for his vibrant and versatile painting and printmaking practices that combined keen observations of the American landscape with the imagery and aesthetic innovations of the African diaspora.

Although Driskell’s work was regularly presented in galleries and museums during his lifetime, in both solo and group exhibitions, this is the first exhibition to unite his paintings and works on paper, bringing approximately sixty artworks together to present highlights of his career. It is also the first major survey of his work since his death in April 2020 at the age of eighty-eight.

The exhibition surveys seven decades of the artist’s painterly practice from the 1950s to the 2000s, featuring works from museums and private collections and the artist’s estate. Select works establish the evolution of his use of collage as a medium, while others exemplify his signature incorporation of African images and forms

This exhibition is co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the Portland Museum of Art, Maine, with support from The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC.

Click on an image below to learn more.


David Driskell was born in Eatonton, Georgia, in 1931. He graduated from Howard University in 1955, received an MFA from Catholic University in 1962, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture In 1953.

A lifelong educator, Driskell honed his teaching repertoire at HBCUs between 1955 through 1977, teaching at Talladega College, Howard University, and Fisk University. From 1977 through 1997, Driskell taught at the University of Maryland, College Park, which is now the home of the David C. Driskell Center, an exhibition space and research institute that houses Driskell’s archive. In addition to a growing collection of African American art, it serves as a study center for the history of African American art and art of the African diaspora.

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 Museum presented the 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, which examined African American art in the broad historical context of modern and contemporary art. Established by the High Museum in 2005, the David C. Driskell Prize is the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African American art and art history.


Culture Type | “Coming Soon: ‘Icons of Nature and History,’ a Major Survey of David Driskell Opens at High Museum in Atlanta in February 2021”
Artnet News | “9 Must-See US Museum Shows Opening in Early 2021, From KAWS’s Brooklyn Blowout to a Homecoming for Laura Owens”
Widewalls | “Seven Decades of David Driskell’s Art Soon in a Traveling Exhibition”
ARTFIXdaily | “A Look Back at 2020 – ARTFIXdaily Returns in January”
Sugarcane Magazine | “This Week in Black Art and Culture”
ARTnews | “New ‘Black Art’ Documentary Is a Moving Tribute to Art Historian David C. Driskell’s Legacy”
Emory Wheel | “Bey and Driskell: Two Art Icons at the High”
Forbes | “Review: HBO Original Documentary ‘Black Art: In The Absence Of Light’”
Architectural Digest | “Six Transporting Exhibitions of Works by Black Artists to See This Month”
ArtsATL | “High retrospective shows David C. Driskell as artist extraordinaire, scholar and man”
Art & Antiques | “Scholar, Curator, Creator”
Atlanta Journal Constitution | “Two shows spotlight art of David Driskell, eminent Black art scholar”
The New York Times | “Black History Month Is a Good Excuse for Delving Into Our Art”
Town and Country | “David Driskell Was a Curator, Artist, Scholar, and Fervent Champion of Black Art
Rolling Out | “Atlanta’s High Museum recognizes the legacy of David Driskell in new exhibit”
Forbes | “2021: The Year of David Driskell”
Burnaway | “‘David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History’ at High Museum of Art”
ARTnews | “How David C. Driskell’s Painting, Collecting, and Curating Helped Preserve Black Art History”
Art in America | “See David C. Driskell’s Radiant Paintings Exploring Black Heritage”

Organization and Support

David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History is co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the Portland Museum of Art, Maine.

The exhibition will be on view at the High Museum of Art (February 6–May 9, 2021), Portland Museum of Art (June 19–September 12, 2021), and the Phillips Collection (October 16, 2021–January 9, 2022).

National Tour Sponsorship Provided By

Bank of America logo.

Major Funding Provided By
Henry Luce Foundation
Henry Luce Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Brenda and Larry Thompson

Premier Exhibition Series Sponsor

Delta logo.

Exhibition Series Sponsor

Northside Hospital logo.

Premier Exhibition Series Supporters
Sarah and Jim Kennedy
wish Foundation logo.

Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporters
Anne Cox Chambers Foundation
Robin and Hilton Howell

Ambassador Exhibition Supporters
The Antinori Foundation
Corporate Environments
Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot
Elizabeth and Chris Willett

Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters
Farideh and Al Azadi
Sandra and Dan Baldwin
The Ron and Lisa Brill Family Charitable Trust
Lucinda W. Bunnen
Marcia and John Donnell
Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones
The Arthur R. and Ruth D. Lautz Charitable Foundation
Joel Knox and Joan Marmo
Margot and Danny McCaul
The Fred and Rita Richman Fund
Mrs. Harriet H. Warren

Generous support is also provided by
Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Isobel Anne Fraser–Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, and the RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund.

Special thanks go to the Patrons of David Driskell: Icons of
Nature and History
for providing additional funds to support
this exhibition.

Billye and Hank Aaron
Alton Adams
Lucy and Raymond Allen
Andreane and Michael K. Anderson
Spring and Tom Asher
Lisa and Joe Bankoff
Andrea Barnwell Brownlee
Veronica and Franklin Biggins
Dennis L. Boyden and Linda M. Washington
Susan and Gregg Branham
Scarlet Pressley-Brown and Wendell Brown
Kirsten Pai Buick
Nancy and Randall K. Burkett
Mary Schmidt Campbell
Willie Cole
Huey Copeland
Donna and Timothy Crim
Richard Deane, Jr.
Jennifer and Curley M. Dossman, Jr.
Brooke and Rod Edmond

Helen and Howard Elkins
Peggy Foreman
Bonnie and Larry Frazier
Margaret and Scotty Greene
Ayonna Hammond
Stephanie Johnson Hardy
Lyle Ashton Harris
Venessa Harrison
Sara and Jeff Hehir
Elsie and Jim Henderson
Sivan and Jeffrey Hines
Charlene Crusoe-Ingram and Earnest Ingram
Jane and Clay Jackson
Rashid Johnson
Kellie Jones and Guthrie Ramsey
Naima J. Keith
Judy and Scott Lampert
Joe B. Massey
Rhonda and Chris Matheison
Sally and Allen McDaniel

Sheyda Mehrara
Janine and George Monroe
Bridget Moore—DC Moore Gallery
Sally and Jim Morgens
Valerie Cassel Oliver
Vicki and John Palmer
Monica and John Pearson, Sr.
Peterson/Compton Family
Wanda Yancey Rodwell
Shayla and Chip Rumely
Lovette and Michael Russell
Sylvia A. Russell
D. Jack Sawyer, Jr., and William E. Torres
M. Alexis Scott and Brian McKissick
Amy Sherald
Robyn and Frank Sims
Xaviera Simmons/David Castillo Gallery
Franklin Sirmans
Arthur G. Smith
Margaret and F. Terry Stent

Renee Stout
Lisa Cannon Taylor and Chuck Taylor
Carla and Cleophus Thomas, Jr.
Krista A. Thompson
Hellena H. Tidwell in memory of Isaiah Tidwell
Henrie M. Treadwell
Cindy and Bill Voyles
April Watkins
Sue and John Wieland
Carolyn and Ambassador Andrew Young