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John Rhoden


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John Rhoden
The first comprehensive retrospective of twentieth century African American sculptor, John Rhoden (1916-2001)

With a sculptural sensibility defined by his extensive world travels, sensualism, and a breadth of visual influences, Rhoden worked in a style that was ahead of his time. Through approximately 70 sculptures in bronze, wood, and stone, and archival materials from the recently-processed John Rhoden Papers, this exhibition will illustrate the visual and technical mastery of this award-winning artist.

Discover the incredible work and personal story of one of the most prolific sculptors of the 20th century.

In 2017, the John Rhoden Estate selected PAFA to assume the responsibility of preserving and promoting John Rhoden's artistic legacy. The Rhoden Collection includes over 300 works of art and 22 linear feet of archival materials. In 2019, PAFA was awarded a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to organize the archival papers and provide free online access to the public. The grant team dedicated over a year on the project to deliver 5,000 digital objects online. The johnrhoden.pafaarchives.org online portal provides a curated look into the life of John Rhoden and highlights a few areas that can be further explored using the archival collections.

Determined to Be explores the work of prizewinning American sculptor John Walter Rhoden (1916–2001). When Rhoden was young, his talent caught the attention of several notable mentors: he was advised by Hale Woodruff and Alain Locke as well as sculptors Richmond Barthé and William Zorach. He went on to travel the world and became the first Black visual artist to win the Prix de Rome from the American Academy in Rome. Contributing scholars explore various aspects of Rhoden’s life and career, including how the artist was shaped by his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, and his training and professional networks. Essays also consider how his time in Italy and his years in Indonesia expanded the scale and scope of his sculpture. Other topics include Rhoden’s travels, public commissions, and oeuvre in the context of Cold War modernism, as well as media coverage of his career in the mainstream and Black press. Approximately 150 images, including stunning new photography, showcase the technical sophistication of Rhoden’s work, and archival materials from the recently processed John Rhoden papers shed new light on the life of this significant underrecognized sculptor. Contributors: Greg Barnhisel, Katelyn D. Crawford, Sylvea Hollis, Hannah McCoy, Rebecca VanDiver, and Kelin Baldridge Smallwood
  • BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 188 Pages, 9.5 x 10.7 in, 138 color illus.
  • Publisher: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Exhibition Information:

Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building
Curated by
Dr. Brittany Webb, Evelyn and Will Kaplan Curator of Twentieth Century Art and the John Rhoden Collection

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