The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

David Driskell

Artist and scholar David Driskell is regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on African American art. Driskell was born on June 7, 1931 in Eatonton, Georgia. Educated in North Carolina's public schools, he earned his undergraduate degree at Howard University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Driskell also pursued post-graduate studies in Art History at the Netherlands Institute for the History of Art in the Hague and studied African and African American cultures independently in Europe, Africa, and South America.

In 1976, Driskell opened his groundbreaking exhibition, "Two Centuries of Black American Art", at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The show prompted the creation of similar shows around the country. Driskell also penned the show's catalogue, an invaluable text to art scholars who previously had very little information available on African American artists.

Since 1977, Driskell has served as cultural advisor to Camille and Bill Cosby and curator of the Cosby Collection of Fine Arts. He placed works of African American artists on the set of "The Cosby Show". This is credited with creating a new class of African American art collectors.

Driskell has contributed significantly to the study of the role of African American artists in society. He has written five exhibition books, co-authored four others, and published more than forty catalogues from exhibitions he has curated. Driskell has lectured extensively in North America, Europe, Africa, and South America and has taught at numerous universities.

In 1998, the University of Maryland established the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the African Diaspora. The Center honors Driskell's career as artist, educator, philanthropist, collector and art historian.

Accession Number

A2001.022

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

6/23/2001

Last Name

Driskell

Maker Category
Schools

Catholic University of America

The Netherlands Institute for Art History

Talladega College

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
Archival Photo 2
First Name

David

Birth City, State, Country

Eatonton

HM ID

DRI01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Falmouth, Maine

Favorite Quote

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't be anything you want to be.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

6/7/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Art professor, curator, and fine artist David Driskell (1931 - ) was one of the world's leading authorities on African American art. He wrote five exhibition books, co-authored four others, and published more than forty catalogues from exhibitions he curated. In 1998, the University of Maryland established the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the African Diaspora, which honored Driskell's career as artist, educator, philanthropist, collector, and art historian.

Employment

Cosby Collection of Fine Arts

Talladega College

University of Maryland (1812-1920)

Bowdoin College

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of David Driskell interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - David Driskell identifies five favorite things

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - David Driskell talks about his mother and her background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - David Driskell talks about his siblings and father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - David Driskell discusses the education of blacks within his community

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - David Driskell shares memories of his time in Edenton, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - David Driskell reflects on growing up in Edenton, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - David Driskell describes his childhood personality and interests

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - David Driskell discusses his father's religious orientation

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - David Driskell reflects on growing up as the son of a preacher

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - David Driskell share a story about his name

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - David Driskell talks about the connection between his father and African traditions

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - David Driskell talks about his mother and her ability to make predictions

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - David Driskell details his decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - David Driskell discusses the support he received from his sister and mother

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - David Driskell identifies several individuals who were supportive of him

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - David Driskell deliniates his living arrangements while at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - David Driskell discusses his undergraduate major and James A. Porter

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - David Driskell talks about the undervalued contributions of James A. Porter

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - David Driskell discusses the environment and inspiration of the Barnett Aden Gallery

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - David Driskell reflects on the relationship that existed among artists

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - David Driskell talks about Louise Jones and his trip to Skowhagen

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - David Driskell details his first teaching experience at Talladega College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - David Driskell shares details about how he met his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - David Driskell talks about returning to Howard University and turning down Fisk University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - David Driskell explains how he was recruited to Fisk University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - David Driskell the history of Fisk University's art collection and his curation of the collection

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - David Driskell talks about his schedule and the value of Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - David Driskell details the efforts to curate and conserve Fisk University's art collection

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - David Driskell discusses the role of white patrons

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - David Driskell talks about black arts education at various universities

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - David Driskell discusses the University of Maryland African American art history program and the faculty he recruited

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - David Driskell compares current efforts in African American studies with past efforts

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - David Driskell talks about his training in conservation and preservation

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - David Driskell talks about curators of African American art

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - David Driskell discusses the AfriCobra movement

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - David Driskell talks about art collectors and art agents

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - David Driskell talks about the market for African American art

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - David Driskell discusses his curatorial relationship with the Cosbys

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - David Driskell discusses his relationship with the Cosbys

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - David Driskell shares a story of a Henry O. Tanner painting and the Cosby family

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - David Driskell talks about his book on the Cosby collection

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - David Driskell talks about his art collection

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - David Driskell discusses his current endeavors

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - David Driskell reflects on his mentors and considers his legacy