biography of Hale Aspacio WOODRUFF (1900-1980)

Birth place: Cairo, IL

Death place: NYC

Addresses: Atlanta, GA, 1931-45; NYC, 1945-80

Profession: Painter, printmaker, educator, lecturer

Studied: John Herron Art Inst., Indianapolis; AIC; Fogg Art Mus., Harvard Univ.; Paris, with H. O. Tanner, 1931; Acad. Scandinave & Acad. Moderne, Paris; Morgan State College, hon. D.F.A.; also fresco painting with Diego Rivera, Mexico City, 1936.

Exhibited: Harmon Fnd., 1926 (bronze award & hon men.), 1928-29, 1931, 1933, 1935; AIC, 1927; Smithonian Inst., 1929; Texas Centennial, 1936; Georgia AA, 1938; WFNY, 1939; BMA, 1939; Diamond Jubilee Expo, Chicago, 1940 (awards); High Mus. Art (prize), 1935, 1938, 1940; VMFA, 1944; Atlanta Univ., 1951 (purchase prize); WMAA, 1953; Galerie Jeune Peinture, Paris; Int. Print Soc., State Mus. North Carolina (solo); Kansas City Art Inst. (solo); Univ. Michigan, Ann Arbor (solo); Hampton Inst. & Univ. North Carolina, Chapel Hill & Greensboro (solo); Xavier Univ., 1963; Rockford (IL) College, 1965; Newark Mus., 1971; Bertha Schaefer Gallery, NYC, 1970s; Studio M, Harlem, 1979 (retrospective). Awards: Julius Rosenwald fellowship for Continued Creativity in Art, 1943-45; Great Teacher Award, NY Univ., 1966; honorary doctorate, Morgan State College, Baltimore, 1968.

Member: NJ Soc. Artists; Soc. Mural Painters; Committee Art Educ., MoMA; NY State Council Arts

Work: Newark (NJ) Mus.; LOC; IBM Collection; Howard Univ., Washington, DC; Lincoln Univ., Jefferson City, MO; Atlanta Univ.; Spelman College; Harmon Fnd.; Jackson College; NY State Univ.; Savery Lib., Talladega College, AL (Amistad murals); Howard H.S., Atlanta; murals, Atlanta School Soc. Work.

Comments: While in Paris in the late 1920s Woodruff painted landscapes before turning to a cubist style. Returning to the U.S. in 1931, he began painting scenes of African-American life in the South and in 1938 completed a series of murals for Talladega College relating the history of the mutiny aboard the slave ship Amistad, and the subsequent trial. About this time he was also making expressive, realistic woodcuts about such subjects as lynching. In the mid 1940s Woodruff began working in a more abstract style and by the 1950s was totally devoted to abstraction, incorporating hieroglyphics and African art symbolism into his work. As an educator for over 40 years, Woodruff had a strong impact on young African-American artists. Positions: art dir and teacher, Atlanta Univ., 1931-45 (he also helped organize the Atlanta Annuals, which served as an important venue for African-American artists); professor, art educ., New York Univ. (1945-68), emer. professor, 1968-. Lectures, The Negro as Artist," at Drew Univ, Denver Mus., Univ. Massachusetts, Amherst, Queensboro Jewish Center, Vassar College, Univ. Colorado, Boulder & many other clubs, schools & art groups throughout U.S.

Sources: WW73; Baigell, Dictionary; Hale Woodruff (exh. cat., NYC: Studio Mus., Harlem, 1979); Cederholm, Afro-American Artists; 300 Years of American Art, 891."