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Sheldon Adds Notable Artists' Works to African-American Masters Collection
1921 Art Club image. Credit University of Nebraska-Lincoln Archives.

LINCOLN, NB.- Sheldon Museum of Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln acquired significant works by 20th-century African-American artists in auctions and sales last month in New York. The purchases include works by Charles White, Alvin Loving, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Charles Alston, Lois Mailou Jones and Aaron Douglas.

Sheldon Director J. Daniel Veneciano said, "Sheldon is successfully competing with the top museums in the country in acquiring coveted works in the 20th-century African-American art market. We now celebrate these acquisitions to the African-American Masters Collection at Sheldon. As our participation in the auction clearly indicates, the Sheldon Museum of Art collects great American art in all its important and multifaceted manifestations. We will continue to collect aggressively from the vital and sometimes under-represented history of American art."

Sheldon will present these works in an exhibition, "New Acquisitions: African-American Masters Collection," Dec. 16 through March 2.

Douglas, a preeminent African-American modernist, worked as a busboy and dishwasher while a student at the University of Nebraska. He graduated in 1922, the first African-American to earn a bachelor of fine arts degree at the university. Later in life, Douglas recalled his student days as "four anxious, sweaty, nerve-wracking years." And then recognized the lasting effect of this period, saying, "Fortunately, this experience proved to be the best possible training and orientation for the creation and interpretation of the life I was later called on to depict."

Douglas is known for his visionary use of Afro-centric allegory in representing heroic struggles of African Americans. During the late-1920s he was a pivotal figure in the circle of New York artists and writers now referred to as the Harlem Renaissance. He did illustrations for African-American magazines, created book covers, and painted canvases and murals. In 1937 he went on to Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., where he established the art department and taught for 29 years.

In creating the African-American Masters Collection at Sheldon, Veneciano said, "We are leading the way in re-asserting the value of Douglas's under-recognized career."

The acquisitions are:

* Charles Alston (1907-77), "Deserted House," lithograph, circa 1938, 11 1/8 x 15 1/4 inches, and "Untitled (Figures with Architecture)," tempera and crayon on wove paper, 1949, 13 x 15 inches.

* Romare Bearden (1911-88), "Carolina Blue (Interior)," color screenprint with collage, 1970, 23 7/8 x 17 7/8 inches.

* Elizabeth Catlett (1915-), "Blues Player," lithograph, 1995, 11 1/4 x 6 1/4 inches, and "Pensive Figure," bronze sculpture, 1968, 18 x 12 x 17 inches.

* Aaron Douglas (1899-1979), "Emperor Jones," set of four woodcuts on Japan paper, 1926, each 8 x 5 1/2 inches.

* Lois Mailou Jones (1905-88), "Fille assise avec chat," oil on canvas, 1938, 31 1/2 x 24 3/4 inches.

* Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000), "Eight Passages," eight color screenprints chine-colle on St. Armand paper, 1990, each 26 x 40 inches (sheets).

* Alvin D. Loving Jr. (1935-2006), "Untitled (Hexagon Composition)," acrylic on shaped canvas, circa 1967-69, 54-inches diameter (hexagonal).

* Charles White (1918-79), "Frederick Douglass Lives Again (The Ghost of Frederick Douglass)," pen and ink over pencil on illustration board, 1949, 20 x 30 inches.

Sheldon Museum of Art houses a permanent collection of more than 12,000 objects focusing on American art. The museum, 12th and R streets on the UNL City Campus, is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For information or to arrange a tour, call (402) 472-2461. Additional information is also available on the Sheldon Web site,

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