Year Term Ends



John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art & Art History, Duke University

Richard J. Powell is the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art & Art History at Duke University, where he has taught since 1989. He studied at Morehouse College and Howard University before earning his doctorate in art history at Yale University. Along with teaching courses in American art, the arts of the African Diaspora, and contemporary visual studies, he has written extensively on topics ranging from primitivism to postmodernism, including such titles as Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson (1991), Black Art: A Cultural History (1997, 2002), and Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture (2008). Powell, a recognized authority on African American art and culture (and a frequent commentator and lecturer on this topic both in the United States and abroad), has also helped organize numerous art exhibitions, most notably: The Blues Aesthetic: Black Culture and Modernism (1989); Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance (1997); To Conserve a Legacy: American Art at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (1999); Back to Black: Art, Cinema, and the Racial Imaginary (2005); and Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist (2014). From 2007 until 2010, Powell was editor-in-chief of The Art Bulletin, the world’s leading English language journal in art history. In 2013 Powell received the Lawrence A. Fleischman Award for Scholarly Excellence in the Field of American Art History from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, and in 2016 was honored at the College Art Association’s annual conference as the year’s Distinguished Scholar. His current book project is on black visual satire, which will examine satirical cartoons, paintings, and films and videos by African American artists from the Harlem Renaissance to the present.