Hayward Oubre: Structural Integrity

Oct 04, 2024 - Feb 02, 2025

This exhibition celebrates a key figure in the history of Black American art, Hayward L. Oubre, Jr. (1916 – 2006). Through a broad range of dazzling works of art, the show explores the achievements of a luminary of American modernism. Hayward Oubre: Structural Integrity is the first monographic retrospective of Oubre’s artwork, and shares a previously unexamined history of American modernism rooted in the South through 52 sculptures, paintings, and prints.

Oubre is best known for his work with an everyday material—wire coat hangers—which he used to create modernist masterworks. While living in Alabama and North Carolina, he made art in his vanguard style. These artworks fuse his lived experience, wide-ranging interests, and art historical influences in compositions that range from realism to pure abstraction.

During his extensive career, Oubre was mentored by prominent artists Hale Woodruff and Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, and he worked in regular contact and visual dialogue with esteemed colleagues and friends, including Selma Burke, Elizabeth Catlett, and David Driskell. Making art influenced by scientific progress, political struggle, modernism, and his daily life, he bridged a century with his unshakable determination to create.

Oubre shaped art in the United States not only as an innovative artist, but also as a distinguished educator at two prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He served as the first chair of the art department at Alabama State University (ASU) in Montgomery, from 1949 to 1965. After leaving ASU, Oubre established the art department at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) in North Carolina, building on the legacy he established at ASU. When he retired in 1981, he had taught and created art for more than forty years, educating generations of Black artists.

Hayward Oubre: Structural Integrity Catalog
Hayward Oubre: Structural Integrity Catalog

Edited by Katelyn D. Crawford PRE ORDER NOW FOR DELIVERY IN EARLY FALL 2024 Contributions by Amalia K. Amaki, Katelyn…

Exhibition Sponsors

Image credit: Space Rhythms, 1960, painted metal wire on wood base, 41 ⅝ x 17 ¼ x 22 in., The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina

Presented with generous support from the The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Henry Luce Foundation.

Lead support for the exhibition catalog was provided by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.