top of page

James Denmark

James Denmark, American (1936 - Alive) 


James Denmark was born into a family of Artists on March 23, 1936 in Winter Haven, Florida. He was exposed to color and form at an early age by his grandmother, a wire sculptor and quilt artist; by his grandfather, a bricklayer noted for his unique custom design molds, and his mother who was gifted with an intuitive feeling for design and a fastidiousness for detail which she expressed in all aspects of her daily life. This rich beginning is the root of James Denmark's creative expression.

He attended Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, Florida on a sports scholarship. While pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at FAMU, Denmark came under the tutelage of artist and acclaimed African-American art historian, Dr. Samella Lewis, who exposed him to the great traditions and accomplishments of the African-American art movement. After graduating from FAMU, Denmark moved to Brooklyn, New York and began a career as an art teacher in the public school system.

From 1973 to 1976, Denmark earned his Masters of Fine Arts Degree at the prestigious Pratt Institute of Fine Arts in New York. While at Pratt, Denmark met and was nurtured by an immensely talented community of artists. During this period he was heavily influenced by the abstract expressionists and admired such mainstream artists as Jackson Pollock, Clifford Still, William deKooning. The African-American masters Norman Lewis, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence and Ernest Crichlow instilled in him an appreciation of African/American artistic heritage. "So much richness reinforced my natural talents," Denmark says of his growth at Pratt. He likens it to picking up a baton and carrying it to the next leg-his collages. Denmark's work underwent a stylistic transition at this time. He began experimenting with collage. Prior to this period, he worked primarily in watercolors and charcoal.

Denmark has a natural affinity for the difficult and largely improvisational medium of collage and quickly developed his own unique and easily identifiable style. With brightly handcolored papers, fabric and objects, Denmark creates compositions that go beyond the superficial and transitory and focuses, instead, on what is eternal and universal.

Denmark's collages, watercolors, woodcuts and reproductions are consistently and eagerly sought by galleries and collectors worldwide. He has had over 60 one-man exhibitions and has participated in a number of group shows. His level of acclaim is reflected in the number of prestigious collections in which his works are represented, most notable that of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Denmark's works are a part of well recognized private and corporate collections in this country, as well as in Mexico, South Africa, Europe, Japan and Africa.

Denmark spent a great portion of his professional career in Brooklyn, New York. He and his wife, Ethel, now reside in the town of Yemassee in the Low Country of South Carolina where he continues to work while she manages The Denmark Gallery.

Following is a list of many of Denmark's career highlights.

Swann Auction Galleries - 18 Pieces Sold at Auction
Visiting Artist Program: Morgan State University, Carver High School - Baltimore, MD
Guest Presenter: Technical College of the Lowcountry - Beaufort, SC
Exhibition: Gullah Celebration - Hilton Head, SC
Commissioned Mural: "Artist Speak for Spirits" - Drug Rehabilitation Program of Greater NY - Brooklyn, NY
Exhibition: Cousens Gallery - Martha's Vineyard
Exhibition: Sharon Simms Gallery - Brooklyn, NY

Atlanta Arts Festival - Atlanta, GA
Lecture and Demonstration: Lake Norman Art League - Davidson, NC
Commission: "Knowledge is Power" South Carolina Alliance of Black School Educators (Winter Conference) - Myrtle Beach, SC

One Man Exhibitions:

McCrory Galleries and Blue Cross & Blue Shield - Columbia, SC
Artist in Residence: Benedict College - Columbia, SC
Exhibition: Stella Jones Gallery - New Orleans, LA
National Black Fine Arts Show - Atlanta, GA
Exhibition: Cousens Gallery - Martha's Vineyard
Exhibition: Sharon Simms Gallery - Brooklyn, NY
Exhibition: H&M Gallery - Long Island, NY

Acts of Art Gallery - New York, New York
Bratton Gallery - New York, New York
Center for Art and Culture of Bedford Stuyvesant - Brooklyn, New York
Gallery 62 - New York, New York
Roots in Art Gallery - Scarsdale, New York
Sewickley Academy's Campbell Gallery - Sewickley, Pennsylvania
Spectrum Gallery - New Rochelle, New York
Spiral Gallery - Brooklyn, New York
Gallery W - Washington, DC
Design Masters - Harlem, New York
Savacou Gallery - New York, New York
Norsam Gallery - New York, New York

Group Exhibitions:

Boston Museum of Fine Arts - Massachusetts
Brooklyn Museum - Brooklyn, New York
Contemporary Arts Museum - Houston, Texas
Everson Museum of Art - Syracuse, New York
Flint Institute of Art - Flint, Michigan
High Museum of Art - Atlanta, Georgia
Lever House - New York, New York
Minneapolis Institute of Art - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Museum of Art at Rhode Island School of Design - Providence, Rhode Island
Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building - New York, New York
Orozco Chapel - Guadalajara, Mexico
San Francisco Museum of Art - San Francisco, CA
Veneable-Neslage Galleries - Washington, DC
Bomani Gallery - San Francisco, CA
Samuels Gallery - Oakland, CA


CSAP National Resource Center; Poster
EMI Recording Company; Record Album for Diane Reeves
New York Urban League; Lithograph
National Black Bar Association; Collage
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Commemorative Poster

39th Annual Printing Industy Award given by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
The Living Legends Award presented by the National Urban League

bottom of page