Local collectors loan works by iconic African American artists to the CMA
Forward Together: African American Art from the Judy and Patrick Diamond Collection now on view
The Columbia Museum of Art announces new exhibition Forward Together: African American Art from the Judy and Patrick Diamond Collection, on view in the Focus Gallery from Wednesday, October 19, 2022, through Sunday, April 2, 2023.Drawn from the esteemed collection of Judy and Patrick Diamond, this exhibition highlights a remarkable selection of works by some of the most significant African American artists of the last century: Benny Andrews, Radcliffe Bailey, Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Sargent Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Hughie Lee-Smith, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Leo Twiggs.
“It’s a special privilege for Judy and me to be invited to share artwork from our collection with the Columbia Museum of Art,” says Diamond. “I was born in Columbia in 1950 and have vivid childhood memories of my time in the city. Additionally, Judy and I have family members who are lifelong residents of Columbia, and we are very excited to share the exhibition with them, their friends, neighbors, and all residents of the city.”
For more than 40 years, Judy and Patrick Diamond have shared a passion for collecting African American art. Patrick was born in the community of Frogtown, a historically segregated neighborhood in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended Saint Martin de Porres Elementary School before moving north with his family. While a student at Boston University, he met his future wife, Judy, and their mutual interest in art blossomed.
In the early 1980s, they visited a Romare Bearden exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in Judy’s native New York, the first museum exhibition they had seen dedicated to a Black artist. This powerful experience motivated the couple to make their first visit to a commercial gallery in Atlanta, where they purchased a Bearden print and began their collecting journey.
The Diamonds soon became acquainted with the Noel Gallery in Charlotte, an establishment that championed artists of color. Their friendship with the gallery further nurtured a dedication to African American art, and the Diamond collection steadily grew to include works by Benny Andrews, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, and many others.
The works on view — more than 20, almost all works on paper with one batik piece — touch on a variety of themes relating to Black life, history, and humanity, subjects that resonate with the Diamonds and inspire their patronage.
“Judy and Patrick’s collection allows us to engage some of the prevailing themes in 20th-century African American art — spiritual, personal, and political,” says CMA Curator Michael Neumeister. “It’s a thrill to offer our audience the opportunity to see works by Radcliffe Bailey, Romare Bearden, and Hughie Lee-Smith side by side.”