Richard J. Powell
John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History
Ph.D., Yale University 1988
M.Phil., Yale University 1984
M.A., Yale University 1982
M.F.A., Howard University 1977
B.A., Morehouse College 1975
Richard J. Powell is John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art & Art History at Duke University, where he has taught since 1989. He studied at Morehouse College and Howard University before earning his doctorate in art history at Yale University. Along with teaching courses in American art, the arts of the African Diaspora, and contemporary visual studies, he has written extensively on topics ranging from primitivism to postmodernism, including such titles as Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson (1991), Black Art: A Cultural History (1997 & 2002), and Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture (2008).
ExpertiseAfrican American art, African art, art of the United States
Powell, RJ. African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era and Beyond. Washington, DC: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2012.
Powell, RJ. Ras Ishi/Secret Diaries. Miller Publishing Company, Ltd., 2009.
Powell, RJ. Who Am I in This Picture? Amherst College Portraits. Amherst College, 2009.
Powell, RJ. Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture. University of Chicago Press, 2008.
Powell, RJ. Circle Dance: The Art of John T. Scott. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2005. (Exhibition Catalog)
Powell, RJ. Black Art: A Cultural History. London: Thames and Hudson, Ltd., 2002.
Powell, RJ. Beauford Delaney: The Color Yellow. Atlanta: High Museum of Art, 2002. (Exhibition Catalog)
Powell, RJ. To Conserve a Legacy: American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999. (Exhibition Catalog)
Powell, RJ. Jacob Lawrence. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1992.
Powell, RJ. Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson. New York: W. W. Norton, 1991.
Powell, RJ. ""Porch and Drawl"." Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art. Ed. Lash, M and Schoonmaker, T. Durham, North Carolina.: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. 2016. 106-119. (Essay)
Powell, RJ. ""Wounded Zouave and the Cyrenian Paradigm"." The Civil War in Art and Memory. Ed. Savage, K. Washington, D.C..: National Gallery of Art. 2016. 65-80. (Essay)
Powell, RJ. ""I Talismani di Betye Saar"." Betye Saar: Uneasy Dancer. Ed. Marinetti, M. Milano, Italy.: Fondazione Prada. 2016. 233-241. (Essay)
Powell, RJ. ""Les ames illustrees: W. E. B. Du Bois dans l'art contemporain"." The Color Line: Les Artistes Africains-Americains et La Segregation. Ed. Soutif, D. Paris, France.: Flammarion. 2016. 74-85. (Essay)
Powell, RJ. "Probability Theory: David Hammons's Money Tree." Open This End: Contemporary Art from the Collection of Blake Byrne. Ed. Joseph R. Wolin. Los Angeles, CA: The Skylark Foundation, 2015. 42-49. (Essay)
Powell, RJ. ""Dem Shoes": Thomas Hart Benton's Romance." American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood. Ed. A Bailly. Munich: Delmonico Books - Prestel, 2015. 83-87. (Essay)
Powell, RJ. "Walking on Water: Embodiment, Abstraction, and Black Visuality." Represent: 200 Years of African American Art in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Ed. Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw. Philadelphia, PA, 2014. 1-19.
Powell, RJ. "New Negroes, Harlem, and Jazz (1900-1950)." The image of the black in western art. Ed. D Bindman and HL Gates. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014. 53-104. (Chapter)
Powell, RJ. ""Foreword: Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Devotional Memorial"." Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial. Ed. S Greenough and N Anderson. Yale University Press, 2013. xv-185.
Powell, RJ. ""Herein Lie Buried Many Things: Screens, Entryways and Cabinets in Twentieth-Century Black Visual Discourse"." African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era and Beyond. Washington, DC: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2012. 12-33.
Oliver, VC, and Powell, RJ. ""Richard Powell/'Say it Loud': An Interview with Richard Powell by Valerie Cassel Oliver"." Callaloo 38.4 (2016): 985-995. (Interview)
Powell, RJ. "Rechercher et imaginer l’art « black » américain depuis 2005." Perspective 2 (December 31, 2016): 81-94. Full Text Open Access Copy
Powell, RJ. "Emancipation and the Freed in American Sculpture." ART BULLETIN 95.4 (December 2013): 646-649.
Powell, RJ. "Freeman Henry Morris Murray: Emancipation and the Freed in American Sculpture." The Art Bulletin 95 (December 2013): 646-649.
Powell, RJ. "The Woodshed." STUDIES IN THE HISTORY OF ART 71 (2011): 199-206.
Powell, RJ. "'Paint That Thing!' Aaron Douglas's Call to Modernism." American Studies 46 (2010): 107-119.
Powell, RJ. "The Picturesque, Miss Nottage and the Caribbean Sublime." Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 25 (February 2008): 157-168.
Powell, RJ. "PAINT IN THE NAME OF LOVE." INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ART 22.2 (2008): 64-65.
Powell, RJ. "Linguists, Poets, and ‘Others’ on African American Art." American Art 17 (March 2003): 16-19. (Academic Article)
Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist. Curator. (2014)
Sonia Boyce: Crop Over. Curator. (2011)
Embodied: African American Images in Contemporary Art. Creator. (2010)
"Embodied: African American Images in Contemporary Art", September, 2010, David C. Driskell Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Back to Black: Art, Cinema and the Racial Imaginary. Curator. (2005)
Back to Black: Art, Cinema and the Racial Imaginary, 2005, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, England & Walsall Art Gallery, Birmingham, England
Circle Dance: The Art of John T. Scott. Creator. (2005)
Beauford Delaney: The Color Yellow. Curator. (2002)
30 page manuscript and recorded narration of the virtual exhibition tour (at http://www.africana.com)
Rhapsodies in Black: Music and Words from the Harlem Renaissance. Consultant, Curator. (2000)
10 page manuscript, essay, and â€œcreative consultantâ€ for a CD box set, Rhino Records R2 79874
Membership. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. October 2018
Distinguished Scholar Session. College Art Association. February 2016
Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professorship awarded by National Gallery of Art (Principal Investigator). 2019
(98-0601) Beyond Mere Likeness: Protraits from Africa and African Diaspora awarded by Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1998 to 1999