Richard J. Powell

Richard J. Powell

Professor in the Department of African and African American Studies

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 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, R. J. Jacob Lawrence. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1992.

Powell, R. J. Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson. New York: W. W. Norton, 1991.

Powell, R. J. From the Potomac to the Anacostia: Art and Ideology in the Washington Area. Washington Project for the Arts, 1989.

Powell, R. J. James Lesesne Wells: Sixty Years in Art. Washington Project for the Arts, 1986.

Powell, R. J. Rhapsodies in Black: The Art of the Harlem Renaissance. University of California Press.


Powell, R. J. “Walking on Water: Embodiment, Abstraction, and Black Visuality.” Represent: 200 Years of African American Art in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, edited by R. J. Shaw, Gwendolyn DuBois, 2014, pp. 1–19.

Powell, R. J. “New Negroes, Harlem, and Jazz (1900-1950).” The Image of the Black in Western Art, edited by D. Bindman and H. L. Gates, Harvard University Press, 2014, pp. 53–104.

Powell, Richard J. “"Foreword: Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Devotional Memorial".” Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial, edited by Sarah Greenough and Nancy Anderson, Yale University Press, 2013, pp. xv–185.

Powell, Richard J. “"Herein Lie Buried Many Things: Screens, Entryways and Cabinets in Twentieth-Century Black Visual Discourse".” African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era and Beyond, Washington, DC: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2012, pp. 12–33.

Powell, Richard J. “"Tanner and Transcendence".” Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit, edited by Anna O. Marley, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012, pp. 56–65.

Powell, Richard J. “"The Woodshed".” Romare Bearden: American Modernist, edited by Ruth Fine and Jacqueline Francis, National Gallery of Art, 2011, pp. 200–2006.

Powell, Richard J. “"From Diaspora to Exile: Black Women Artists in 1960s and 1970s Europe".” The Migrant’s Time: Rethinking Art History and Diaspora, edited by Saloni Mathur, Sterling and Francine Clark Institute, 2011, pp. 78–90.

Powell, Richard J. “"The Systems and Semiotics of Ras Ishi Butcher".” Ras Ishi/Secret Diaries, Miller Publishing Company, Ltd., 2009, pp. 19–27.

Powell, Richard J. “"Unexpected Faces in Public Places".” Who Am I in This Picture? Amherst College Portraits, Amherst College, 2009, pp. 8–15.


Powell, Richard J. “PAINT IN THE NAME OF LOVE.” International Review of African American Art, vol. 22, no. 2, 2008, pp. 64–65.

Powell, Richard J. “Linguists, Poets, and ‘Others’ on African American Art.” American Art, vol. 17, Mar. 2003, pp. 16–19.

Powell, Richard J. “Appreciation. Jacob Lawrence: Keep on Movin’.” American Art, vol. 15, Mar. 2001, pp. 90–93.

Powell, R. J. “On Alain Locke and James Porter.” Hatch Billops Collection, Inc./Artist and Influence, vol. 11, 1998, pp. 1–8.

Powell, Richard J. “Cinqué: Antislavery Portraiture and Patronage in Jacksonian America.” American Art, vol. 11, no. 3, University of Chicago Press, Oct. 1997, pp. 49–73. Crossref, doi:10.1086/424304. Full Text

Powell, R. J. “Art of the Harlem Renaissance.” Art Bulletin, vol. 77, Sept. 1995, pp. 132–37.

Powell, R. J. “The Subject in/of Art History.” The Art Bulletin, vol. 77, no. 3, Sept. 1995, p. 515. Scopus, doi:10.1080/00043079.1995.10786651. Full Text

POWELL, R. J. “ART, HISTORY, AND VISION.” Art Bulletin, vol. 77, no. 3, Sept. 1995, pp. 379–82.

POWELL, R. J. “IMAGES AND IDENTITIES + EDITORIAL - A BRIEF, INTRODUCTORY NOTE.” International Review of African American Art, vol. 11, no. 3, 1994, pp. 6–6.

Powell, R. J. “The Art of Raymond Saunders: Colored.” New Observations, vol. 97, 1993, pp. 10–15.