Whitfield Lovell

Bronx-born artist Whitfield Lovell has become internationally recognized for his referential installations and exquisite Conte crayon drawings, often done on a variety of objects. His well-known portraits of anonymous African Americans from the period of time between the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Movement explore notions of personal narrative, ancestral connection and the nature of historic memory. A recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship, often referred to as the “genius grant,” Lovell has expanded his practice to include large-scale tableaux, video and sound installation, in addition to his portrait work. Drawing from a personal archive of hundreds of photographs, Lovell also incorporates objects like playing cards, flags, ropes, vessels, and jewelry, to create personalities, narratives and histories for his now-anonymous figures. Drawing on elements from early African American songs, poetry, literature, politics, fashion and art, Lovell’s work is itself a portrait of a people’s history.