Skip to main content
  • Want more images or videos?
    Request additional images or videos from the seller
1 of 7

Charles McGee
"Squares and Things" African-American Painting of Colorful Quilt & Still Life

1967

$45,000

About

"Squares and Things" painted by the eminent artist, Charles McGee, literally breaths his African American heritage and his extraordinary vibrant use of colors. This early painting of McGee's shows his mastery in creating a painting in the style of the French Impressionist Edouard Manet, "Still Life with Melon and Peaches" located in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and in the style of Fauvist/Expressionist painter Henry Matisse, "Still Life with Blue Tablecloth", located in the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia. McGee makes the well-known genre of still life his own creating an exciting marvelous work incorporating the homely quilt - the powerful symbol of the African American road to safety from slavery - as his main focus. Quilts symbolize warmth, comfort, and as shown by the collection of quilts gathered by the artists in Gee's Bend the designs on the quilts hung outdoors at locations along the Underground Railroad showed fugitives the road north and to safety. "Squares and Things" was first shown at The Arwin Galleries, Inc., Detroit, Michigan, one of the stops along the Underground Railroad. This piece is signed by the artist, Charles McGee, and is an extraordinary example of his early work before he moved into Abstract Expressionism and his many sculptural works now located throughout Michigan. Several of these works are: "Noah's Ark: Genesis, 1984," on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts, his brilliant 2005 "Progression" a 45-foot wide aluminum sculpture at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan, and his stunning 2016 "United We Stand" sculpture at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History . His genius can be seen in sculpture installments throughout the city of Detroit. . He was born into a family of sharecroppers. While helping his grandfather tend the land, "he observed firsthand the order and harmony that exists within nature." He had no formal schooling until moving to Detroit at age 10, where he found that "everything was on the move and it hasn’t slowed down yet." in 2017 he observed, "I learned something not being in school — because life is school . . .I learn something every time I move. Every time I go around a corner, something new is revealed to me.” McGee took advantage of the GI Bill to attend classes at the Society of Arts and Crafts, now the College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI. Other College for Creative Studies (formerly Center for Creative Studies) faculty and graduates include Richard Jerzy, Harry Bertoia, Doug Chaing (currently director of Lucas Film), Stephen Dinehart (game maker, writer, designer connected with The David Lynch Foundation), Tyree Guyton (international artist), Herb Babcock, Jerome Feretti, Kevin Siembieda (writer, designer and publisher of role-playing games), Renee Radell, and Philip Pearlstein. After retiring from the Corps of Engineers, McGee spent 1968 studying art in Barcelona. Despite not knowing the language at the outset, he immersed himself in the culture and opened himself to a whole new range of experience that would play out in his artwork. "If you free yourself, you have this kind of opportunity to have those experiences, horizons, and new vistas." (per interview with Nick Sousanis author of a book on Charles McGee.) He returned to Detroit and curated "Seven Black Artists" at the Detroit Artists Market in 1969, which along with McGee himself, included Lester Johnson, Henri Umbaji King, Robert Murray, James Lee, Allie McGhee, Harold Neal, and Robert J. Stull. This immediately led to him opening the artists' collective Gallery 7 at 8232 West McNichols and the Charles McGee School of Art. The gallery ran until 1974 when he closed the school and moved the gallery to the Fisher building where it stayed until 1979. The school functioned entirely as a volunteer organization run by McGee. People rallied around it as a community project, with such teachers as artist George Rogers who worked with the children and Allie McGhee and others, even their supplies came as donations from local institutions. McGee states emphatically that, "People participated because we had created such a dynamic place in the community, people couldn't ignore it." Nationally, his work has shown at the Brooklyn Museum and Whitney Museum of American Art and in touring exhibitions under the umbrellas of the Smithsonian. According to the Kresge Foundation, "McGee developed an unwavering loyalty to the city and its residents, and endowed it with much of his artistic energy and artwork 'Detroit really has been a heaven for me,’ McGee explains. ‘It has given me dignity and treated me with respect.’” In 2008, McGee was named the first Kresge Eminent Artist. Administered by the College for Creative Studies, this award honors one Detroit artist each year for professional achievements, cultural contributions, and commitment to the local arts community. In early 2019, Michigan Legacy Art Park announced that McGee would receive its 2019 Legacy Award "in recognition of a lifetime of achievements and influences as an artist, teacher, advocate and global citizen."

Details

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    $399 Standard Front Door Shipping
    to United States 0, arrives in 3-6 weeks.
    We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Ships From: Detroit, MI
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 14 days of delivery.

1stDibs Buyer Protection Guaranteed
If your item arrives not as described, we’ll work with you and the seller to make it right. Learn more
About the Seller
5 / 5
Located in Detroit, MI
Platinum Seller
These expertly vetted sellers are 1stDibs' most experienced sellers and are rated highest by our customers.
Established in 2014
1stDibs seller since 2019
53 sales on 1stDibs
Typical response time: <1 hour
More From This Seller

You May Also Like

Still Life with Daffodils
By John Mann
Located in New York, NY
In “Still Life with Daffodils,” bright yellow blossoms stand in a white jug against a subdued background. The light and impressionistic detailing, particularly on the jug and in the ...
Category

1930s American Modern Still-life Paintings

Materials

Illustration Board, Oil

1959 "Plant Still Life In Pink" Jack Hooper Mid Century Still Life oil Painting
By Jack Hooper
Located in New York, NY
Jack Hooper "Plant Still Life in Pink" 1959 Acrylic on Canvas 40"x30" unframed Signed and date in paint lower right Jack Meredith Hooper (August 26, 1928 - January 24, 2014) was an ...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Modern Interior Paintings

Materials

Oil, Canvas

Still Life (double-sided)
By Alfred Henry Maurer
Located in Concord, MA
ALFRED MAURER (1868-1932) Still Life (double-sided), n.d. Oil on board 22 x 13 ½ inches Signed verso: A. H. Maurer PROVENANCE Estate of Gaston Lachaise [Salander-O'Reilly...
Category

1920s American Modern Still-life Paintings

Materials

Oil, Board

Oars
By Donald S. Vogel
Located in Dallas, TX
Donald Vogel’s paintings reflect his interest in seeking beauty in life and in sharing pleasure with his viewers. Vogel entreats us to "rejoice and celebrate each new day, knowing it...
Category

1950s American Modern Interior Paintings

Materials

Oil, Panel

Untitled (1940 Modernist Still Life with Flowers: Red, Yellow, Blue & White)
By John Edward Thompson
Located in Denver, CO
An original modernist still life oil painting by John E. Thompson (1882-1945), table is draped in red cloth and flowers in vase are red, yellow, blue/purple and white with green stem...
Category

1940s American Modern Interior Paintings

Materials

Oil, Canvas

'Interior in Ivory and Jade, France', Atherton, California, Hawaii, Large Oil
By Judith Gaulke
Located in Santa Cruz, CA
Signed lower right, 'J. Gaulke' for Judith Gaulke (American, born 1946) and painted circa 1995; additionally titled, verso, 'Biot, France' and signed. Since her first solo show in ...
Category

1990s American Modern Interior Paintings

Materials

Canvas, Oil

Modernist Floral Oil Painting Roses, Flowers in Vase WPA Artist Nicolai Cikovsky
By Nicolai Cikovsky
Located in Bal Harbour, FL
framed: 23 x 19.75 image: 15.5 x 11.5 Nicolai S. (Nicola) Cikovsky (1894 - 1984) was active/lived in New York / Russian Federation. Nicolai Cikovsky is known for Shore landscape,...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Modern Still-life Paintings

Materials

Canvas, Oil

Colorful "Still Life with Pineapples" Oil on Canvas, 1975
By Jack Freeman
Located in San Francisco, CA
This spring 1975 oil on canvas still life with a pineapple and coffee cup is by San Francisco painter Jack Freeman (1938-2014). Freeman studied at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta,...
Category

1970s American Modern Still-life Paintings

Materials

Canvas, Oil

The 1stDibs Promise

Learn More

Expertly Vetted Sellers

Confidence at Checkout

Price-Match Guarantee

Exceptional Support

Buyer Protection

Insured Global Delivery