Museum News

Statement on the Death of Renowned Abstract Painter Edward Clark, a Pioneering Artist in Post-War Abstraction

November 19, 2019
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, © Ed Clark

Spencer Crew, interim director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, released the following statement today, Nov. 19, on the death of renowned painter Edward Clark (1926–2019).

“The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture mourns the loss of Edward Clark. As a second-generation Abstract Expressionist, Clark believed ‘the paint is the subject.’ Rather than telling a story, his primary focus was exploring the formal qualities of painting.

“Clark was an innovator, the first artist to experiment with using a push broom as a brush, and the first to use oval-shaped canvases. These innovations allowed Clark to express movement and speed. On his 1980 solo exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem, he remarked, ‘Our eyes don’t see in rectangles. The oval is a natural shape, and it can best express movement extending beyond the limits of the canvas.’ He maintained art should be inclusive to people of every race, believing ‘its importance elevates it above any racial difference.’

“The museum is proud to share part of his legacy with the world through his work ‘The Big Egg’, painted in 1968, the year he began working with oval-shaped canvases, in our Visual Art Gallery. In a career that spanned over six decades, Edward Clark will be remembered for his work, which inspired generations of artists and appealed to audiences around the world.”

 

About the National Museum of African American History and Culture 
Since opening Sept. 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has welcomed more than 6 million visitors. Occupying a prominent location next to the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the nearly 400,000-square-foot museum is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history. For more information about the museum, visit nmaahc.si.edu, follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.

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Media Contact(s): 

Jermaine House (202) 633-9495; housej@si.edu 
Cierra Jefferson (202) 633-7812; jeffersonc@si.edu 

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The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.