Exhibition | Soul Deep: African-American Masterworks

Nov 27, 2021 — Sep 25, 2022

Soul Deep: African-American Masterworks features 38 works by 20 artists. Ranging from a rare 1840 poem jar by enslaved potter David Drake (c. 1800 to c. 1870) to an evocative 2020 abstract painting by Frank Wimberley (born 1926), Soul Deep spans 180 years of American history.

A recently discovered landscape by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) depicts Whitewater Falls near Cashiers—one of only four paintings known to exist from the artist’s brief time in North Carolina.

The exhibition also includes multiple examples by three artists of the Charleston Renaissance era: William H. Johnson (1901-1970); husband-and-wife team Edwin (1882-1931) and Elise (1891-1970) Harleston; and Joseph Delaney (1904-1991). 

Merton Simpson (1928-2013), Philip Simmons (1912-2009), and Leo Twiggs (born 1934) attest to the significant contributions that artists of the Palmetto State have made to the history of 20th century American art and design.

Post-World War II non-objective painting is reflected in works by Beauford Delaney (1901-1979); Hale Woodruff (1900-1980); and Frank Wimberley. A lighter, but no less powerful, touch is embodied in the lyrical organic forms of Gloucester C. Coxe (1907-1999) and the brilliant Color Field paintings by Thomas Sills (1914-2000). 

Self-taught artists Ulysses Davis (1914-1990) and Winfred Rembert (1945-2021) testify to the biographical foundation of meaningful artistic expression.

The realist tradition informs iconic examples by two of America’s finest practitioners, Hughie Lee-Smith (1915-1999) and John Wilson (1922-2015) whose monumental bronze head of Martin Luther King, Jr. captures the dignity and strength of the civil rights leader.