Alston, Charles Henry, 1907-1977

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1907-11-28
Death 1977-04-27
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

African-American artist Charles Henry Alston, nicknamed "Spinky," was born 28 November 1907 in Charlotte, N.C. He was the youngest of five children born to the Reverend Primus Priss Alston, who was born into slavery in Chatham County, N.C., and Anna Miller Alston. After Primus's death, Anna married Harry Pierce Bearden, artist Romare Bearden's uncle, and moved the family to New York in 1913. Charles Alston worked as a painter, sculptor, graphic artist, illustrator, and educator, gaining national and international recognition. His works are found among the holdings of individuals and permanent museum and gallery collections around the world. Alston married Myra Logan, a noted surgeon at Harlem Hospital.

From the description of Charles Henry Alston papers, 1930s-1990s (bulk 1930s-1970s). (Oceanside Free Library). WorldCat record id: 40337293

African American painter, mural painter; New York, N.Y.

From the description of Oral history interview with Charles Henry Alston, 1965 Sept. 28 [sound recording]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82606018

Epithet: Secretary of the College of Physicians at Edinburgh

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000923.0x000185

Charles Henry Alston (1907-1977) was a painter and educator from New York, N.Y.

From the description of Oral history interview with Charles Henry Alston, 1968 Oct. 19. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78709163

Painters, educator; New York, N.Y.

Born in Charlotte, N.C. Alston grew up in Harlem. Was an instructor at the Art Students League (1950-1971) and at the City College of New York (1959-1977).

From the description of Charles Henry Alston papers, 1928-1980. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 245521071

Charles Henry "Spinky" Alston (1907-1977) was a painter and an educator from New York, N.Y.

Charles Alston was born in Charlotte, N.C. and grew up in Harlem. He was director of the Harlem Art Workshop during the Great Depression, along with sculptor Henry Bannarn. There he taught and mentored African-American painter Jacob Lawrence, as well as Romare Bearden, among others. Alston also helped form the Harlem Artists Guild, which pressured the government to be more inclusive in its grant giving. He was an instructor at the Art Students League (1950-1971) and at the City College of New York (1959-1977).

From the description of Charles Henry Alston papers, 1924-1980. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 430379031

Painters, educator; New York, N.Y.

Born in Charlotte, N.C. Alston grew up in Harlem. Was an instructor at the Art Students League (1950-1971) and at the City College of New York (1959-1977).

From the description of Charles Henry Alston papers, 1928-1980. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82921624

Charles Henry Alston (1907-1977) worked primarily in New York city as a painter, muralist, illustrator, and educator. He was part of the Harlem Renaissance movement in the 1930s and helped form the Harlem Art Workshop and the Harlem Artists Guild.

Charles Henry "Spinky" Alston was born in Charlotte, North Carolina on November 28th, 1907. His parents were the Reverend Primus Priss and Anna Miller. After the death of his father, Alston's mother married Henry Pierce Bearden (Romare Bearden's uncle) in 1913 and the family moved to New York City.

At DeWitt Clinton High School in New York, Alston served as art editor of the school's literary magazine. Alston majored in fine arts and history at Columbia University, graduating in 1929. He became active in the Harlem community and accepted a position as director of Utopia House, a boy's camp, where he started an art program. He returned to Columbia and recieved a Masters degree in art education from Columbia's Teachers College. While still a student, he illustrated album covers for jazz musician Duke Ellington and book covers for poet Langston Hughes.

Alston played a major role in the Harlem Renaissance Movement of the period. During the Great Depression, he and sculptor Henry Bannarn directed the Harlem Art Workshop which was funded by the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project. There he taught and mentored African-American painter Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, among others.

In the 1950s, Alston embarked on a series of portraits of African-American figures. He also taught at the Art Students League and later with the City College of New York (CUNY). Along with his wife, Myra Logan, a surgeon at Harlem Hospital, Alston lived in Harlem and remained an active member of the community until the end of his life. Charles Alston died in 1977.

From the guide to the Charles Henry Alston papers, 1924-1980, (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)

African-American artist Charles Henry Alston, nicknamed Spinky, was born 28 November 1907 in Charlotte, N.C. He was the youngest of five children born to the Reverend Primus Priss Alston and Anna Miller Alston. Charles Alston gained fame as a painter, sculptor, graphic artist, illustrator, and educator.

Primus Priss Alston was born into slavery in Chatham County, N.C. He later attended Saint Augustine's School (now Saint Augustine's College) in Raleigh, N.C., where he studied for the ministry. Primus Priss Alston attained the rank of deacon in 1883 and was ordained as a priest in 1892. Primus Priss Alston died in 1910; he had served for nearly 30 years as the rector of St. Michaels of All Angels Church in Charlotte, N.C.

Several years after Primus Priss Alston's death, Anna Miller Alston married Harry Pierce Bearden, uncle of artist Romare Bearden. The family relocated to New York in 1913. The children, however, returned to North Carolina to spend summers visiting relatives.

The artistic ability for which Alston became known emerged when he was very young. Among his first drawings were images of trains and cars; his first sculptures were made from the red clay he found around him in North Carolina. As early as his grammar and high school years, his work brought him considerable recognition. At 14, he won his grammar school's art prize. While attending Dewitt Clinton High School in New York, he was elected to the Arista, an honorary society for achievers, and served as art editor for the school magazine. Alston continued his formal study of art at Columbia University's School of Fine Arts, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1929. Two years later, he received a Master of Arts degree from Teachers College, Columbia University.

During his professional career, Alston was teacher, mentor, and friend to many, including Langston Hughes. His talent appealed to Hughes and other writers of the Harlem Renaissance era, as well as to Duke Ellington. For these individuals and for a number of major magazines, including Redbook, Mademoiselle, and the New Yorker, he created artwork for illustrations, dust jackets, and album covers. Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, both of whom became critically acclaimed artists, were among Alston's students.

Alston held an appointment as artist for the Office of War Information and Public Relations, 1940-1941, and served in the United States Army during World War II. He also served on the boards of the National Society of Mural Painters, the National Council of the Arts, and other organizations. His academic endeavors included positions at several institutions, among them the Art Students League and the City College of New York. He was named full professor at CCNY in 1973. Alston supervised the painting of a mural for the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project Commission and won many prestigious awards, including the Rosenwald Fellowship and the First Annual Distinguished Alumnus Award from Teachers College, Columbia University. He gained national and international recognition through the sale and exhibition of his works, which are among the holdings of individuals and permanent collections at museums and galleries around the world.

Alston married Myra Logan, a noted surgeon at Harlem Hospital. She died in January 1977 at the age of 68. He died in April of that same year at age 69.

From the guide to the Charles Henry Alston Papers, 1930s-1990s (bulk 1930s-1970s), (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)

Loading...

Loading Relationships

Information

Permalink:
http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w63x9r5t
Ark ID:
w63x9r5t
SNAC ID:
27097797

Subjects:

  • Harlem Renaissance
  • Educators--New York (State)--New York
  • Art--Study and teaching
  • Illustrators
  • Mural painting and decoration, American--20th century
  • Illustrators--New York (State)--New York
  • Sculptors--New York (State)--New York
  • Muralists--New York (State)--New York
  • Painting, Modern--20th century
  • World War, 1939-1945--Caricatures and cartoons
  • Sculptors
  • Painting
  • Mural Painters--Interviews
  • Painters
  • Muralists
  • African American painters--Interviews
  • Painters--Interviews
  • Federal aid to the arts
  • Women physicians--History--20th century
  • Educators
  • African American women--History--20th century
  • African American artists
  • African American artists--History--20th century
  • African American women physicians--History--20th century
  • Painters--New York (State)--New York
  • African American artists--New York (State)--New York
  • African American families
  • Art, American
  • Educator--Interviews
  • Mural painting and decoration
  • Artists--History--20th century
  • Art--American (?)--Reproductions
  • African American clergy

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • Bonsall, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Lapland, Northern Europe (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • Wittenberg, Germany (as recorded)
  • North Carolina (as recorded)
  • London, England (as recorded)