Richard J. Powell

John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History, in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

External Address: 
114 Buchanan Blvd, Smith Warehouse, Bay 9, A287C, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90766, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 684-2473


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).

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Yale University 1988

  • M.Phil., Yale University 1984

  • M.A., Yale University 1982

  • M.F.A., Howard University 1977

  • B.A., Morehouse College 1975

Powell, RJ. "Sartor Africanus." Dandies: Fashion and Finesse in Art and Culture. Ed. S Fillin-Yeh. New York: New York University Press, 2001. 217-242.

Powell, RJ. "Harmonizer of Chaos." Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence. Ed. P Nesbett and M DuBois. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000. 147-163.

Powell, RJ. "Conjuring Canes and Bible Quilts: Through the Prism of Nineteenth Century African American Spirituality." African Americans and the Bible: Sacred Texts and Social Textures. Ed. VL Wimbush. New York: Continuum, 2000. 342-354.

Powell, RJ. "Lamentations from the ‘Hood." Kerry James Marshall/Mementos. Chicago: The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, 2000. 31-47.

Powell, RJ. "The Blues Aesthetic: Black Culture and Modernism." African American Literary Criticism, 1773 to 2000. Ed. HA Ervin. New York: Twayne Publishers, 289-302, 1999.


Powell, RJ. "Black Folk in America, 1930-1980." Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin (1984): 11-18.

Powell, RJ. "Current Expressions in Afro-American Printmaking." PrintNews 3 (April 1981).

Powell, RJ. "The Afro-American Printmaking Tradition." PrintNews 3 (February 1981): 3-7.

Powell, RJ. "9/9." The New Art Examiner 7 (June 1980): 10-11.

Powell, RJ. "Houston Conwill." Neworld (February 1979).

Powell, RJ. "Talking to James Lesesne Wells." Print Review 9 (1979): 65-75.

Powell, RJ. "Images and Identities: A Brief, Introductory Note." The International Review of African American Art 11.3: 6-6.

Powell, RJ. "Journeying Beyond: The Prints and Paintings of Joyce Wellman." The International Review of African American Art 10.3.