By Charise Wallace, Special to the AFRO

An exclusive exhibition known as “Charles White: A Retrospective” will be the first in more than 30 years to be recognized at the renowned Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of artist and activist Charles White (1918-1979), Howard University Gallery of Art’s permanent collection will lend MoMa two signature paintings, “Five Great American Negroes” and “Native Son #2.”

Charles White’s “Five Great American Negroes” will be on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York along with “Native Son.” (Courtesy Photo)

Along with the themed exhibit, more than 100 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, illustrated books, and record covers of White’s work during his 40-year career will be featured as well.

“The Howard University Gallery of Art is honored to loan two significant Charles White works from our collection to the Museum of Modern Art,” said President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick in a statement. “Five Great American Negroes and Native Son 2 demonstrate his ability to capture the mood of a generation. To gather more than 100 pieces of White’s work together will truly be an unforgettable moment.”

Charles White’s “Native Son” will be on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York along with “Five Great American Negroes.” (Courtesy Photo)

The exhibition will be open to the public at the museum in Midtown Manhattan from Oct. 7-Jan. 13, 2019.

“Charles White’s influence on American and African American art is without comparison,”  said director of the Howard University Gallery of Art and associate dean for the Division of Fine Arts, Gwendolyn H. Everett. “At a time when most images of African Americans in popular media were stereotypical and derogative, White felt compelled to make art that affirmed human dignity.”

White’s noble work of art depict African-American culture and social justice issues through his niche as a contemporary painter. “Five Great American Negroes” was his first mural to go public in 1940 while working at the Federal Art Project (FAP) in Chicago. The work features five prominent Black leaders, including Frederick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, Sojourner Truth, Marian Anderson, and George Washington Carver.

“Native Son #2,” which was released in 1942, was inspired by author Richard Wright’s 1940 book “Native Son.”

White said his artwork was “the only weapon I have with which to fight what I resent. If I could write I would write about it. If I could talk I would talk about it. Since I paint, I must paint about it.”

Learn more about the exhibition at