History of the CAU Art Gallery

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The CAU Art Gallery is a shining dedication to the black experience in the collective history of the US, and the world. The pieces contained within the CAU Art Gallery are of the finest quality and importance. The works are donated by friends of the institution and gifts given by patrons of the art world. Some of today’s most influential painters and artists have work on exhibition at the Art Gallery.

The history of the CAU Art Gallery is both long and illustrious. In 1931, Hale Woodruff joined the faculty at the Atlanta University to help bolster the art program. In 1942, Alain Locke initiated a series of annual art series at the Atlanta University, called Exhibitions of Paintings, Sculpture & Prints by Negro Artists of America.

In 1959, the Art Gallery is named after Catherine Hughes Wadell who donated 81 pieces to the gallery. The African Art collection was started in1968 thanks to the donations of several patrons. In 1969, the gallery received a gift of 16 paintings from William H. Johnson.

The last Exhibitions took place in 1970. Judge Irwin C. Mollison collection is acquired, consisting of paintings and prints by William McKnight Farrow, Archibald Motley and William Eduard Scott. In 1994, renovation of the former library facility, Trevor Arnett, took place to re-house collection in the reading room. In 1995, Bequest received from James Baldwin a fine art collection and gift from artist Larry Walker.

In 1996, the new gallery reopened in collaboration with the Olympic Arts Festival under its current name Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries.
In 1997, they acquired gifts of works by: Lonnie Graham, Bob Tomlinson and Charles Dawson. In 1998, Radcliffe Bailey created and donated the Date of Arrival in honor of Hale Woodruff and lineage of professors.

The Collection received artist’s gifts from Helen Cohen and strip quilts from the Tysons, thereby initiating an African American quilt collection. In 1999, Bill Hodges Galleries donated paintings by Norman Lewis.

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The Gallery acquired works Willie Jinks, Yusef Bell and Louis Delsarte. In 2000, Kathryn and Ken Chenualt donated a portfolio of linocuts by Hale Woodruff: Selections from the Atlanta Period 1931-1946. Coreen Jennings donated print by Wilmer Jennings. The Gallery acquired works by Sam Gilliam and Luftee Sabree.

In 2001, the works of Mildred Thompson, Stefanie Jackson, Coreen Simpson, Lynn Marshall Linnemeier, Bongi Bengu, Eldizer Cortor, Diane Edison and Susan Ross enter the collection.

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