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  • Whitfield Lovell

    United States

    Art Brokerage: Whitfield Lovell American Artist: b. 1959. Whitfield Lovell (born 1959 Bronx, New York) is a contemporary African-American artist who is known primarily for his drawings of African-American individuals from the first half of the twentieth century. Lovell creates these drawings in pencil, oil stick, or charcoal on paper, wood, or directly on walls. In his most recent work, these drawings are paired with found objects that Lovell collects at flea markets and antique shops. Lovell is currently represented by DC Moore Gallery, New York, NY. Whitfield Lovell was born on October 2, 1959 to Gladys Glover Lovell, an elementary school teacher from South Carolina, and Allister Lovell, a postal clerk and photographer of West Indian descent. He grew up in the Bronx and attended the Fiorella LaGuardia High School of Music and Art in Manhattan. During high school, he also participated in a variety of extracurricular art programs: the Metropolitan Museum of Art High School Program, the Whitney Museum Art Resources Center, the New York State Summer School for the Arts in Fredonia, New York, and the Cooper Union Saturday Program. In 1977, Lovell traveled to Spain to study painting and sculpture with Manhattanville College. At El Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain, Lovell decided that he would become a painter. Lovell has said: "I knew I would go into some form of art, but I wasn't sure which. I was interested in fashion and advertising as options. But while I was standing in front of a Velasquez painting I had an amazing spiritual experience. The painter had communicated with me through centuries and cultures, and I suddenly understood the role of the artist. I ran from room to room. Goya, El Greco, Reubens, and Picasso all began to speak out to me. Whatever they were doing in those rooms was what I wanted to do with my life." Lovell spent a year at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore in 1977 before traveling in France, Germany, Italy, England, Austria and the Netherlands with the American Institute for Foreign Study in 1978. When he returned to New York, he enrolled in the Fine Arts Department of the Parsons School of Design and then The Cooper Union School of Art, from which he graduated in 1981. In 1982, Lovell traveled to Egypt, Nigeria, and the Republic of Benin, West Africa. In 1985, Lovell attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, where he reconsidered the nature of his own work: "In Skowhegan I had time to really think about what I wanted to do with my work. I felt the formal issues about color were fighting with the narratives I was getting at... So I narrowed down the color, and began to work monochromatically. I had all of my father's old photographs mailed to me, and I began a process of looking through these images each day before starting to work. The work became more personal and a reflection of the way I saw myself as an artist."[5] This practice, using old photographs as inspiration and source material, has stayed with Whitfield to this day. In 1986, Lovell stayed with relatives in Barbados, West Indies. In 1989, he attended New York University Graduate Program in Venice, Italy. In 1990, he traveled to Mexico, where he began collecting ex-votos and retablos, which he cited as influences in his work. "After looking at European paintings for so many years and then the great black painters Jacob Lawrence, Bob Thompson, and Horace Pippin, I looked toward other cultures for inspiration. I found myself more attracted to folk art, which wasn't as concerned with making high art, but with the joy of storytelling. My training, however, was heavily steeped in European artistic values; even the earlier pieces, which had more modernist notions in them, really did come from that tradition. So I also found artists from Latin America to be a very refreshing discovery for me. They seemed to fuse European colonial styles with a different sensibility. I felt they were more passionate about the religious and social narratives and less concerned with skill. Although I didn't grow up Catholic, I was attracted to that symbolism and to certain decorative elements that I feel are part of many images one sees growing up in a place like the Bronx. Rather than return to Venice to finish my master's degree, I spent a lot of time in Mexico getting an education of a different sort." In 1994, Lovell's work was shown as part of the American contingent at the IV Bienal Internacional de Pintura en Cuenca, Ecuador. Other American artists exhibiting at this show were Donald Locke, Philemona Williamson, Freddy Rodríguez and Emilio Cruz.

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