Susan G. and Edmund W. Gordon of Pomona, New York, have donated their collection of 19 works by celebrated African American artist Charles White (1918–1979) to the Blanton Museum of Art, museum officials announced today.
In addition Edmund W. Gordon — a Yale Univ. professor emeritus of psychology and African-American studies — has donated his paper to UT’s Benson Latin American Collection library for its Black Diaspora Special Collections.
The Gordons were close friends with Charles White (1918–1979) and his wife his wife Frances Barnett. The couples met when White created “Awaken from the Unknowing” a 1961 early drawing for the Harriet Tubman Child Health and Guidance Clinic, a private medical clinic in Harlem that Doctors Susan G. and Edmund W. Gordon established to serve disadvantaged children.
“Awaken from the Unknowing” is featured in the Blanton’s current exhibition, “Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties.”
White’s work came to fore towards the end the Harlem Renaissance. In 1940, he was commissioned by the Works Project Administration to create a mural depicting the history of the American Negro Press, a news agency.
The 19 artworks donated to the Blanton include key drawings, prints, and a major painting by White all of which will become part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Said Cherise Smith, director of UT’s John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies: “The significant gift of White artworks and Gordon papers allows Black Studies to forge ahead with its goal to increase the University’s collection of primary documents relating to cultures of the African Diaspora.”