MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts Faculty Database
MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts
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Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History, and MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts and Professor of Art, Art History and Visual Studies and Professor of African and African American Studies

Richard J. Powell

Richard J. Powell is Dean of the Humanities and the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art & Art History at Duke University, where he has taught since 1989.  He studied at Morehouse College and Howard University before earning his doctorate in art history at Yale University.  Along with teaching courses in American art, the arts of the African Diaspora, and contemporary visual studies, he has written extensively on topics ranging from primitivism to postmodernism, including such titles as Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson (1991), Black Art: A Cultural History (1997 & 2002), and Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture (2008).

Contact Info:
Office Location:  114 Buchanan Blvd, Smith Warehouse, Bay 9, A287C, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 684-2473
Email Address: send me a message
Web Page:

Teaching (Spring 2018):

    Smith Wrhs A266, TuTh 10:05 AM-11:20 AM
    (also cross-listed as AAAS 227.01)
  • VMS 555S.01, BLACK VISUAL THEORY Synopsis
    Smith Wrhs A290, Th 03:05 PM-05:35 PM
    (also cross-listed as AAAS 589S.01)
Teaching (Fall 2018):

    Smith Wrhs A266, MW 10:05 AM-11:20 AM
    (also cross-listed as AAAS 348.01, ICS 223.01)
    Smith Wrhs A290, W 01:25 PM-03:55 PM
    (also cross-listed as LIT 512S.01)

Ph.D.Yale University1988
M.Phil.Yale University1984
M.A.Yale University1982
M.F.A.Howard University1977
B.A.Morehouse College1975

Afro-American Art
African Art
Art of the United States
Research Interests:

Richard J. Powell received his Ph.D. from Yale University. His research and teaching interests lie in American art, African American art, and theories of race and representation in the African diaspora. He is also interested in the media arts and conceptualizations of the "folk" in world art and culture. His books include Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson and Black Art: A Cultural History.

Current Ph.D. Students   (Former Students)

  • Katie Jentleson  
  • Rebecca Keegan  
  • Alfredo Rivera  
Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Powell, RJ, Linguists, Poets, and ‘Others’ on African American Art, American Art, vol. 17 (Spring, 2003), pp. 16-19
  2. Powell, RJ, Black Art: A Cultural History (2002), London: Thames and Hudson, Ltd. (Revised & expanded edition of Black Art & Culture in the 20th Century, 1997; Spanish translation: Arte y Cultura Negros en el Siglo XX, Barcelona: Ediciones Destino, S.A., 1998.)
  3. Powell, RJ, Appreciation. Jacob Lawrence: Keep on Movin’, American Art, vol. 15 no. 1 (Spring, 2001), pp. 90-93, ISSN 1073-9300 [3109375], [doi]
  4. Powell, RJ, To Be Real, in The Barkley L. Hendricks Experience (2001), pp. 13-15, New London, Connecticut: Lyman Allyn
  5. Powell, RJ, Sartor Africanus, in Dandies: Fashion and Finesse in Art and Culture, edited by Fillin-Yeh, S (2001), pp. 217-242, New York: New York University Press

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