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, Richard J. “"Barkley L. Hendricks, Anew".” Barkley L. Hendricks/Birth of the Cool, edited by Trevor Schoonmaker, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, 2008, pp. 38–57.

Powell, Richard J. “"Paesaggio come evasion. Soggezione e affrancamento nelle immagini ottocentesche di afroamericani".” Pittura Americana Del XIX Secolo: Atti Del Convegno, edited by Marco Goldin and H Barbara Weinberg, Linea d’Ombra Libri, 2008, pp. 116–36.

Powell, R. J., et al. “"A Conversation with Martin Puryear".” Martin Puryear, edited by John Elderfield, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2007, pp. 99–110.

Powell, Richard J. “"The Aaron Douglas Effect".” Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist, edited by Susan Earle, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2007, pp. 53–73.

Powell, Richard J. “"Changing, Conjuring Reality".” Conjuring Bearden, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, 2006, pp. 19–31.

Powell, Richard J. “"On James A. Porter’s and (our) Modern Negro Art".” A Proud Continuum: Eight Decades of Art at Howard University, Howard University Gallery of Art, 2005, pp. 25–28.

Powell, Richard J. “"Racial Imaginaries, from Charles White’s Preacher to Jean-Paul Goude and Grace Jones’ Nigger Arabesque".” Back to Black: Art, Cinema and the Racial Imaginary, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 2005, pp. 9–27.

Powell, R. J. “To Be Real.” The Barkley L. Hendricks Experience, New London, Connecticut: Lyman Allyn, 2001, pp. 13–15.

Powell, R. J. “Sartor Africanus.” Dandies: Fashion and Finesse in Art and Culture, edited by Susan Fillin-Yeh, New York: New York University Press, 2001, pp. 217–42.

Powell, R. J. “Harmonizer of Chaos.” Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence, edited by Peter Nesbett and Michelle DuBois, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000, pp. 147–63.


Powell, R. J. “What Becomes a Legend Most? Reflections on Romare Bearden.” Transition, vol. 55, 1992, pp. 62–72.

Powell, Richard J. “"In My Family of Primitiveness and Tradition": William H. Johnson's "Jesus and the Three Marys".” American Art, vol. 5, no. 4, University of Chicago Press, Oct. 1991, pp. 21–33. Crossref, doi:10.1086/424127. Full Text

Powell, R. J. “Margo Humphrey: Interview.” Hatch Billops Collection, Inc./Artist and Influence, vol. 5, 1987, pp. 56–65.

Powell, Richard J. “William H. Johnson's Minde Kerteminde.” Black American Literature Forum, vol. 20, no. 4, JSTOR, 1986, pp. 393–393. Crossref, doi:10.2307/2904438. Full Text

Powell, R. J. “On Exhibit: Black Artists of the Nineteenth Century.” The Chicago Reader, Aug. 1985, pp. 10–11.

Powell, Richard J. “African Art at the Field Museum.” African Arts, vol. 18, no. 2, JSTOR, Feb. 1985, pp. 24–24. Crossref, doi:10.2307/3336186. Full Text

Powell, R. J. “Black Folk in America, 1930-1980.” Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin, 1984, pp. 11–18.

Powell, R. J. “Current Expressions in Afro-American Printmaking.” Printnews, vol. 3, Apr. 1981.

Powell, R. J. “The Afro-American Printmaking Tradition.” Printnews, vol. 3, Feb. 1981, pp. 3–7.

Powell, R. J. “9/9.” The New Art Examiner, vol. 7, June 1980, pp. 10–11.