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Avel C. deKnight was born on April 9,1923 in New York City to parents from the Caribbean islands of Barbados and Puerto Rico. He was educated in the public schools and studied art at Benjamin Franklin High School. After his service in a segregated U. S. Army Unit during World War II, he studied at the Ecole de Beaux Arts, the Grande Chaumiere and at the Academie Julian in Paris under the GI Bill. He, along with other African American ex-GI artists like Herb Gentry and Romare Bearden, bravely sought to cultivate their artistic interests and talents in the environment of postwar Paris. In the 1950's, he began writing as an art critic for various French and American publications.

After returning to the United States he continued to develop his artistic craft, exhibit his paintings and subsequently taught at the traditionally respected Art Students League of New York. Pursuing his eclectic cultural interests, he took advantage of an opportunity to travel to the former Soviet Union on an exchange grant sponsored by the State Department, where he visually recorded his impressions of Islamic culture. This experience would later influence the dream-like vistas of his popular "Mirage" series, which he began in the late 1960's.

Avel deKnight's mature paintings and drawings frequently included many archetypal images. As the psychoanalyst Carl Jung might have observed, he demonstrated his appreciation for the power and wisdom of the collective unconscious through his art. This manifestation came about after many years of hard work (which included his study of Leonardo, French Symbolism, Japanese and African Art) and life experiences. He was an Academician of the National Academy of Design and an instructor in the Academy School of Fine Arts from 1981 until his untimely death in 1995.

Major Collections

Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Massillon Museum, Massillon, Ohio

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

Miles College, Birmingham, Alabama

National Academy of Design, New York, New York

Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences, Norfolk, Virginia

Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Springfield Art Museum, Springfield Missouri

Chase Manhattan Bank, New York, New York

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Robert Hull Fleming Museum, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont

Denison University, Granville, Ohio

The Schomburg Collection, New York, New York

Health and Hospitals Corporation, New York, New York

Galeri Marie-Therese Cochin, Paris, France

National Academy of Design, New York, New York

Denison University, Granville, Ohio

Lacarda Gallery, New York, New York

Solo Exhibitions

1968 Larcarda Gallery, New York, New York

Gouache paintings and wash drawings.

1971 Larcarda Gallery, New York, New York

1972 Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, New York

Gouache paintings, watercolors and oil on paper

1973 Babcock Galleries, New York, New York Paintings from the "Mirage" series.

1977 Babcock Galleries, New York, New York

1978 Discovery Art Gallery, Clifton, New Jersey Gouache paintings, wash drawings and casein

1980 Gallery 62, National Urban League, New York, New York Paintings, drawings and watercolors. "Mask and Mirage"

1987 University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Pennsylvania "A Decade of Painting, 1977-1987"

1989 Galerie Marie-Therese Cochin, Paris, France

1990 La Maison Francaise, New York University, New York Images de Guadeloupe: a personal view

1991 La Maison Francaise, New York University, New York Watercolors painted in France. "Interieurs: Intimate Spaces in French Houses"

1993 La Maison Francaise, New York University, New York Watercolors: Landscape views of Paris and regions of France

1993 Art Students League of New York, New York City Major work, "Sanctuary," on view in their 57th Street Display windows during the month of March.

Group Exhibitions

1953 Village Art Center, New York, New York

1960 Gallery 10, New Hope, Pennsylvania

1967 American Watercolor Society

1969 Flint Institute of Art
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, N.Y.
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, N.Y.
San Francisco Museum of Art

1968 American Greeting Card Gallery, N.Y.
Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio
Academy of Fine Arts, Banfer Gallery, N.Y.
The Contemporaries Gallery N.Y.
Roko Gallery, New York
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Art Gallery, University of Iowa
High Museum of Art, Altanta, Ga.
Through 1970, Traveling Exhibition to major U.S. Museums, 30 Black Contemporary Artists

1970 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
Philadelphia Civic Center Museum, Philadelphia
New Jersey State Museum
Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Tx.
Roberson Center for the Arts and Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara
California, Santa Barbara

1971 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York New York
Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia
National Academy of Design , New York, New York (annual)
Finch College Museum of Art, New York, New York
Illinois Art Council, Chicago, HI.
Cummer Gallery of Art, Remnants of Things Past: Jacksonville, Florida
Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York Landscapes

1972 Babcock Gallery, New York, New York Mirage Paintings

1988 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Faces and Figures

1999 Black New York Artists of the 20th Century: Selectionsfrom the Schomburg Center Collection: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, New York (posthumously)

Selected Collections

Photographs in the permanent collection Shomburg Museum, New York

New Jersey Historical Commissions incorporated 10 photographs of Fannie Lou Hamer into the New Jersey School Systems

George Eastman House


New York Village Art Center Prize, 1953

National Academy of Design, Paton Prize, 1958 and 1967

American Academy of Arts and Letters, Childe Hassam Fund Purchase Prize, 1960

United States State Department, Exchange Grant, 1961

National Audubon Artist Society, Grumbacher Award, 1964

Watercolor Society Prize, Grand Prize and Gold Medal, 1967, Centennial Exhibition

Audubon Artists Annual Prize, 1968

American Federation of Arts, Medal of Honor, 1968

Emily Lowe Award, 1970

High Winds Award, 1973

Audubon Artists Purchase Prize

Ranger Fund, Samuel F. B. Morse Medal

Palmer Memorial Prize

Publications and Articles

"Two Gi's Go Back To Paris." in Ebony Magazine. 2, March 1947, pp.l6-18

"Who's News." in Art Digest 15, November 1953

"Reviews and Previews: Avel deKnight." in Art News. 55, March 1960, pp. 52

"Galleries Cross Country." in Art News. 59, March 1960, pp. 52-53

"Art: Russia-Bound Artist." in Jet. 20, 1, June 1961. p. 48

"Review and Previews: Avel deKnight." By Rosalind Brown, in Art News. 67, November 1968, p. 13

"Artists in the Art News." in Art News. 68. March 1969. p. 6

"Who's Who in American Art", 1970

Harley, Ralph, Jr. "Checklist of Afro-American Art and Artists," The Serif, December, 1970

Van Almelo, Frederick. "In the American Grain," Boston After Dark, May 26, 1970

Lebrun, Caron. "Black Art on Display," Boston Herald Traveler, May 26, 1970

Poloski, Harry Ernest Kaiser, and Otto Lindenmeyer. "The Black Artist", Reference Library of Black America, Vol. 4, 1971

Schatz, Walter. Directory of African-American Resources, New York, Bowker, 1970

Ruder and Finn Fine Arts. Contemporary Black Artist, 1969

Meyers, Carol L. Black Power in the Arts, Flint, Michigan, 1970

Hollingsworth, Alvin. "Wealth of Expression in Black Artists", Rhode Island School of Design exhibition, Providence Sunday Journal, June 29, 1969

Haas, Joseph. "A Big Brillant and exciting exhibition of Black Art", Chicago Daily News January 16-17, 1971

"Eye on New York." in Art Gallery. 17, November 1973, pp. 63-65 (illustrated)

"Watercolor Page: Avel deKnight." in American Artist. September 1976, pp. 44-47 (illustrated)

"Reviews and Previews" by Laurie Anderson. in Art News. 70. November 1977, p. l2

"Avel C. deKnight" by Karl Lunde, in Arts. 52. November 1977, p. 11 (illustrated)

Half hour interview with Henri Ghent, Archives of American Art. Washington. D. C., 1978

Essay exhibit catalog, solo exhibition, Gallery 62, "Mask and Mirage" Lowery S. Sims, Associate Curator 20th Century Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City March 1980

"Black Art: an International Quarterly" Volume 4. number 1 Cover Reproduction: "Halo of Memory" with text and interview by editor Val Spaulding. 8 color reproductions, 6 black and white

"Avel C. deKnight" by Frank Martin, in St. James Guide to Black Artist St James Press in Association with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. 1998 pp. 135-136