Born in 1931 into a family of Georgia sharecroppers, David C. Driskell is today a renowned painter and collector of art, as well as one of the leading authorities on the subject of African American art and the black artist in American society. His paintings can be found in major museums and private collections worldwide. His contributions to scholarship in the history of art include many books and more than 40 catalogues for exhibitions he has curated. His essays on the subject of African American art have appeared in major publications throughout the world. In establishing the Driskell Center, the University of Maryland has proudly taken up Driskell’s challenge to “grow the field.”
Prof. Driskell studied at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and received his undergraduate degree in art at Howard University (1955) and a Masters in Fine Arts degree from Catholic University (1962). He joined the faculty of the Department of Art at the University of Maryland in 1977 and served as its Chair from 1978-1983. He has been a practicing artist since the 1950s and his works are in major museums throughout the world, including the National Gallery of Art, the High Museum of Art, and Yale University Art Gallery, to name a few.
In 1976, Driskell curated the groundbreaking exhibit “Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750-1950” which laid the foundation for the field of African American Art History. Since 1977, Prof. Driskell has served as cultural advisor to Camille O. and William H. Cosby and as the curator of the Cosby Collection of Fine Arts. In 2000, in a White House Ceremony, Prof. Driskell received the National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton. In 2007, he was elected as a National Academician by the National Academy.