Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art

Published on Nov 2, 2012

Larry and Brenda Thompson have amassed a remarkable collection of art by African Americans from around the nation. In 2009, the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland organized this exhibition from the Thompsons’ collection. In 2011, it helped open the remodeled and expanded Georgia Museum of Art, to which the Thompsons subsequently gave a large portion of their collection, including all the works in the exhibition.

The strength of the Thompsons’ collecting process lies in their considered attention to artists who have typically not been recognized in the traditional narratives of African American art. In addition to the acknowledged “masters,” the Thompsons have collected works by artists who have been labeled “emerging,” “unknown,” “outsider,” “eccentric,” “vernacular,” “regional” and more. The result is a collection that redefines the landscape of American art, offering a more in-depth, inclusive understanding of African American artists and their aesthetic and social concerns. The Thompsons have not only identified and supported artists inside and outside of the canon, but they have also cultivated meaningful relationships with a variety of artists and their families that have lasted decades.

This video features Larry and Brenda Thompson discussing their collection and Carissa DiCindio, curator of education at the Georgia Museum of Art, talking about its educational uses.