Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Receives 78 Artworks from Constance E. Clayton -ARTnews

Romare Bearden, Odyssey Series, ca. 1970s, silkscreen.


Constance E. Clayton, an educator, civic leader, and arts advocate, has given 78 works by African-American artists to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. The collection spans about 100 years—from the late 19th century to the late 20th century—and includes pieces by Charles White, Sam Gilliam, and Romare Bearden, among others. The museum is planning to mount a show with works from the gift in January 2020.

Brooke Davis Anderson, the museum director at PAFA, said in statement, “The museum is honored and excited to partner with Dr. Clayton on securing the legacy of the African-American artists she has collected with such verve and enthusiasm.”

PAFA President and CEO David R. Brigham added that the gift is a “milestone” for the institution. He said in a statement, “With this generous gift, PAFA continues to build on its long history and ongoing commitment to collecting and exhibiting African-American art and artists. We share Dr. Clayton’s vision and it is ingrained in everything we do here at PAFA, from educating artists to exhibitions and public programs.”

Clayton was the first woman and African-American to be superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, a position she held from 1982 to 1993. She was also the first African-American woman to have a professorship named after her at an Ivy League institution—the Constance E. Clayton Professorship in Urban Education was established at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in 1992. Clayton is a current member of the board at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where she founded the African American Collections Committee in 2000.

She said of her collection, “I hope visitors to our city will enjoy it. Being at PAFA, it will certainly inspire budding artists to continue making their work and that is important to me.”

Below is a selection of works from the donation.

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