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Ogden Museum of Southern Art celebrates the impassioned artworks of the late Herbert Singleton
Herbert Singleton, Dr. Kilikey The Heroine Man, Gordon W. Bailey Collection.

NEW ORLEANS, LA.- Ogden Museum of Southern Art, in association with Prospect.3 New Orleans presents Herbert Singleton: Inside Out/Outside In, through January 25, 2015, celebrating the impassioned artworks of the late Herbert Singleton (1947-2007). Drawing upon the Ogden Museum’s own collection in addition to loans from the artist’s most important collector Gordon W. Bailey, this selection of works documents Singleton’s contribution to Southern contemporary art practices.

Singleton’s brightly painted bas-reliefs defy progressive linear narratives of the past, which often gloss over the magnitude of racial discrimination in the United States. A lifelong resident of Algiers, the Fifteenth Ward of New Orleans, and a carpenter by trade, Singleton made art empowered by his life experience, which included nearly 14 years of incarceration in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Unlike the scenes of spiritual uplift rendered by other self-taught carvers, racial strife and urban crime are abundant in Singleton’s unflinching works. His self-taught style demonstrates a strong use of found materials and a commitment to address the deeply entrenched socio-economic realities of the South. His life and art were not separate endeavors and the artist explicitly indicated that the act of creating helped him to confront the hardships in his life. According to Bailey, “Singleton railed against hypocrisy on both sides of the racial divide.”

Herbert Singleton: Inside Out/Outside In was picked one of the top-ten, 2014, exhibitions in the United States by Hyperallergic’s Benjamin Sutton, who commented: “This tiny gem of a show, part of Prospect.3, brought together no more than 10 of Singleton’s colorful and brutal woodcarvings of scenes inside Angola prison — where he was incarcerated — and parables and characters drawn from daily life in New Orleans’s 15th Ward. While so much outsider art is captivating for the maker’s ability to convey a rich and complex inner life with rudimentary means, what makes Singleton’s work so powerful is its unsentimental, practically documentary recording of events, from executions at Angola to drug dealers on the streets of New Orleans.”

Singleton’s artwork is found in numerous important public and private collections worldwide including the American Folk Art Museum, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland, New Orleans Museum of Art, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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