James Denmark: The Pride of the low country
James Denmark is the pride of the low country in South Carolina. He has pursued a love for art since he was a child and was first introduced through family members while growing up in Winter Haven, Florida. Denmark, who was born in 1936, says on his website, “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 early exposure led Demark to pursue a career in art, studying first at Florida A&M University, where he was influenced by Samella Lewis, from whom he learned about the African-American art movement. After graduation, he moved to New York, where he taught art in a public school.
However, in order to improve his knowledge and skills, Denmark enrolled at the respected Pratt Institute of Fine Art in New York, where he received a master’s degree and met a community of artists which, he said, helped shaped his artistic mind.
On his website, Denmark says he was heavily influenced by such abstract expressionists as Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still and Willem de Kooning. The African-American masters Norman Lewis, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence and Ernest Crichlow instilled in him a strong appreciation of his African-American artistic heritage, which is reflected in his painting, sketches and collages.
Denmark has received numerous awards and his prestigious body of work has been displayed in numerous exhibitions and galleries, including Gullah Celebration in South Carolina, H&M Gallery in New York, National Black Fine Arts Show in Georgia, Stella Jones Gallery in New Orleans and Cousen Rose Gallery in Massachusetts. He has hosted 60 solo exhibits and has participated in several other group shows. His works also are displayed in many corporate institutions and museums, such as the venerable Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Denmark is known for his colorful and recognizable collages, such as “Strivers Arena,” which sold for $10,000, and “’Dancing With the Spirits,” an acrylic which sold for $15,000. Other popular works include “Party Girls,” “Head of a Girl,” “Teenage Princess,” “Sea Island Man,” “The Red Robe” and “Carnival Masks.”
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