by Hale Woodruff
Essie Green Galleries is delighted to announce an exhibition celebrating the month of African American History featuring an edition of linocut block prints by Hale Aspacio Woodruff one of America's important and influential artists for over fifty years.
Born in 1900 in Cairo, Illinois, Woodruff studied at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, at Harvard University, the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Académie Moderne and Académie Scandinave in Paris. He spent the summer of 1938 studying mural painting with Diego Rivera in Mexico, an experience that greatly affected Woodruff's evolving style until the early 1940s.
Woodruff began teaching art at Atlanta University in 1931 and was responsible for that department's frequent designation as the École des Beaux Arts" of the black South. As he excelled as chairman of the art department at Atlanta University, his reputation also grew as one of the most talented African-American artists of the Depression era. The figurative style of his murals and block prints of the 1930s was bold and muscular “social realism” bearing witness to lives of deprivation and fear that were experienced by blacks in the deep south at that time. His series of block prints were as impressive as his oils and watercolors.
In 1946 Woodruff moved to New York where he taught in the art department at New York University from 1947 until his retirement in 1968. During the mid-1960s Woodruff and fellow artist Romare Bearden were instrumental in starting the Spiral organization, a collaboration of African-American artists working in New York. Woodruff's New York works were greatly influenced by abstract expressionism and the painters of the New York School who were active during the late 1940s and 1950s. Among his associates were Adolf Gottlieb, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock. Following a long and distinguished career that took him from Paris to New York via the Deep South, Woodruff died in New York in 1980.
His works are included in collections of many institutions including The Metropolitan Museum of Rt in New York, The Brooklyn Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, The Studio Museum, The Library of Congress and many more.