Avel de Knight

american artist

About Avel de Knight

Avel C. de Knight was born in New York City to parents from the Caribbean islands of Barbados and Puerto Rico. He was educated in the public schools and studied art at Benjamin Franklin High School. After his service in a segregated U.S. Army unit during World War II, he studied at the École de Beaux Arts, the Grande Chaumière, and the Académie Julian in Paris under the GI Bill. Avel de KnightHe, along with other African-American ex-GI artists like Herb Gentry and Romare Bearden, bravely sought to cultivate their artistic interests and talents in the environment of postwar Paris. In the 1950s, he began writing as an art critic for various French and American publications.

After returning to the United States he continued to develop his artistic craft, exhibit his paintings, and subsequently taught at the traditionally respected Art Students League of New York. Pursuing his eclectic cultural interests, he took advantage of an opportunity to travel to the former Soviet Union on an exchange grant sponsored by the State Department, where he visually recorded his impressions of Islamic culture. This experience would later influence the dreamlike vistas of his popular “Mirage” series, which he began in the late 1960s.

Avel de Knight’s mature paintings and drawings frequently included many archetypal images. As the psychoanalyst Carl Jung might have observed, he demonstrated his appreciation for the power and wisdom of the collective unconscious through his art. This manifestation came about after many years of hard work (which included his study of Leonardo, French Symbolism, Japanese, and African Art) and life experiences. He was an Academician of the National Academy of Design and an instructor in the Academy School of Fine Arts from 1981 until his untimely death in 1995.

Stephen J. Tyson

Artist, Educator, Curator

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