James Denmark was born in Winter Haven, Florida on March 23, 1936 into a family of Artists. He was exposed to color and form at an early age by his grandmother, a wire sculptor and quilt artist, by his grandfather, a bricklayer noted for his unique custom design molds and his mother who was gifted with an intuitive feeling for design and a fastidiousness for detail which she expressed in all aspects of her daily life. This rich beginning is the root of James Denmarks creative expression.
He attended Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, Florida on a sports scholarship. While pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at FAMU, Denmark came under the tutelage of the artist and acclaimed African-American art historian, Dr. Samella Lewis, who exposed him to the great traditions and accomplishments of the African-American art movement. After graduating from FAMU, Denmark moved to Brooklyn, New York and began a career as an art teacher in the public school system.
From 1973 to 1976, Denmark earned his Master of Fine Arts Degree at the prestigious Pratt Institute of Fine Arts in New York. While at Pratt, Denmark met and was nurtured by an immensely talented community of artists. During this period he was heavily influenced by the abstract expressionists and admired such mainstream artists as Jackson Pollock, Clifford Still, William deKooning. The African-American masters Norman Lewis, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence and Ernest Crichlow instilled in him an appreciation of African/American artistic heritage. "So much richness reinforced my natural talents," Denmark says of his growth at Pratt. He likens it to picking up a baton and carrying it to the next leg-his collages. Denmarks work underwent a stylistic transition at this time. He began experimenting with collage. Prior to this period, he worked primarily in watercolors and charcoal.
Denmark has a natural affinity for the difficult and largely improvisational medium of collage and quickly developed his own unique and easily identifiable style. With brightly handcolored papers, fabric and objects, Denmark creates compositions that go beyond the superficial and transitory and focuses, instead, on what is eternal and universal.
Denmarks collages, watercolors, woodcuts and reproductions are consistently and eagerly sought by galleries and collectors worldwide. He has had over 60 one-man exhibitions and has participated in a number of group shows. His level of acclaim is reflected in the number of prestigious collections in which his works are represented, most notable that of New Yorks Metropolitan Museum of Art. Denmarks works are a part of well recognized private and corporate collections in this country, as well as in Mexico, South Africa, Europe, Japan and Africa.
James Denmark continues to live and work in Brooklyn, New York.
| One Man Exhibitions
Acts of Art Gallery - New York, New York
Bratton Gallery - New York, New York
Center for Art and Culture of Bedford Stuyvesant -
Brooklyn, New York
Gallery 62 - New York, New York
Roots in Art Gallery - Scarsdale, New York
Sewickley Academy's Campbell Gallery -
Spectrum Gallery - New Rochelle, New York
Spiral Gallery - Brooklyn, New York
Gallery W - Washington, DC
Design Masters - Harlem, New York
Savacou Gallery - New York, New York
Norsam Gallery - New York, New York
| Group Exhibitions
Boston Museum of Fine Arts - Massachusetts
Brooklyn Museum - Brooklyn, New York
Contemporary Arts Museum - Houston, Texas
Everson Museum of Art - Syracuse, New York
Flint Institute of Art - Flint, Michigan
High Museum of Art - Atlanta, Georgia
Lever House - New York, New York
Minneapolis Institute of Art - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Museum of Art at Rhode Island School of Design -
Providence, Rhode Island
Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building -
New York, New York
Orozco Chapel - Guadalajara, Mexico
San Francisco Museum of Art - San Francisco, CA
Veneable-Neslage Galleries - Washington, DC
Bomani Gallery - San Francisco, CA
Samuels Gallery - Oakland, CA
1993 - CSAP National Resource Center; Poster
1989 - EMI Recording Company; Record Album for Diane Reeves
1987 - New York Urban League; Lithograph
1987 - National Black Bar Association; Collage
1980 - Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Commemorative Poster
1987 - 39th Annual Printing Industy Award given by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
1980 - The Living Legends Award presented by the National Urban League
| "...James Denmark is adept in many media - not only the familiar
watercolors and collages, but also sculpture... The gentleness in his
watercolor is matched by the strength and excitement in his collages...
He focuses on basic themes of love, family, the male and the female, yet he has the ability to go back to these themes each time with a renewed vitality."
| "...James Denmark has plunged himself, heart and soul into his craft
and as a technician he has mastered the difficult medium of collages. However,
his importance as an artist reaches far beyond that. His work reveals a deep
commitment to restoring us to our dignity as human beings and as a race. His
characteristic use of women as his subject speaks to another central
preoccupation - that of elevating black womanhood and fostering a new and
deeper perception of Beauty"
| "... I have know and worked with James Denmark for the last 22 years.
His work is of the very finest quality, especially his collages which have
reached the height of Romare Bearden's. Besides being a masterful artist, he a
down right good human being and I deem it a pleasure and an honor to know and
work with him."
| "...I have been collecting Denmark's work since 1969. He continues to
show that he is an artist of enormous talent. His collages manifest his unique
ability for creative artistic decision making and his masterly skills as a
colorist show through in his vibrant watercolors."
Honorable Bertina Carter Hunter
"...the search for self Diaspora people is often a difficult pursuit. It is linked to an understanding of history, a time, a place, a common collective past. Cheated of this common collective past, diasporic peoples turn to their artists, musicians and actors to create/recreate what might have been and should be. This particulary true of the visual arts. And is even more true in the work of the artist James Denmark.
His collages are vivid representations of the lives of Black folks in the Diaspora world. Bits and pieces of brightly colored paper take form under his masterful hands and eyes, shaping bits and pieces of fragmented lives into elegant narratives of the folks we are, known or might have known.
The search for self is satisfied with Denmark's collaes. We locate ourselves in the moments. The place and time is something lost, of coming home.
This is the power of Denmark's work - one glance and what was lost is immeidately found - a whole history, where you come from, where you are and where you are going.
New York, New York 1993