Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Art, The Cosby Show, and David Driskell

Remember the episode of The Cosby Show with the auction? When Mrs. Huxtable buys back a family painting? The picture, Ellis Wilson's circa 1947 oil on composite board, Funeral Procession, was just one of many pieces of fine art that hung in the Huxtable house. A real departure from the typical sitcom interior.

In real life Camille and Bill Cosby were serious art collectors, often advised by scholar and artist, David Driskell. On the television set, works from various periods were juxtaposed with Early-American-style furniture, and I've read that Driskell was consulted on the choices.

The High now presents an annual award in the art historian's name, the Driskell Prize, to honor a scholar or artist who has made a significant contribution to African-American art. And in April the Museum will mount a large exhibition of Driskell's prints. Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David C. Driskell will encompass woodcuts, linocuts -- 80 prints representing a variety of styles and artistic influences from African to Modernist to classic Western aesthetics.

Image two is a David Driskell print.

Of related interest, the NGA's online tour of the week: African-American Artists. Cosby of course has collected works by many important artists, including Joshua Johnson who is represented on the this tour.

Credit for work shown above:
Henry Ossawa Tanner
The Seine, c. 1902
Gift of the Avalon Foundation

BTW: Wilson's Funeral Procession now belongs to Amistad Research Center at Tulane University.


AphroChic said...

Fantastic post. I've always loved the art that was featured in the Cosby home. Thank you for bringing back those memories, and introducing us to important contributions in African-American art.

Style Court said...

J -- I feel nostalgic too. The art was such a great component of the show. Glad you like the post.

Karena said...

The Cosby's collection is fabulous!

Brilliant Asylum said...

I swear, The Cosby Show did more to shape my young artistic mind in the 80's than anything else. I am still a total jazz enthusiast thanks to Cliff Huxtable.

Style Court said...

Hey guys, I've been trying to find an image of some of the Early American furniture -- very pricey furniture -- that Cosby collected in real life. No luck yet.

I was enlightened by the music too!

Janet said...

David Driskell is extraordinary. A great artist, collector, and a generally lovely man. Thank you for this post!

Style Court said...

Janet -- thanks for all of your kind comments today!

PeteR said...

I actually found this page by doing a search to find out what the name of the "auction painting" was.
I grew up in the 80's and probably wouldn't know who Lena Horne was if not for "Cliff."
The family's "performance" on the staircase was also my first exposure to the great Ray Charles.