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Arts Playlist: Previewing “Allan Freelon: Painter, Printmaker, Teacher” at the Brandywine Museum of Art

Artist and educator Allan Freelon's 'Gloucester Harbor' oil on canvas featured in "Allan Freelon: Painter, Printmaker, Teacher."
Allan Freelon
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The Brandywine Museum of Art
Artist and educator Allan Freelon's 'Gloucester Harbor' oil on canvas featured in "Allan Freelon: Painter, Printmaker, Teacher."

Born in 1895 to a middle-class family, African-American artist Allan Freelon worked his entire life in Philadelphia and promoted the idea that Black artists should follow an independent and self-realized path.

The Brandywine Museum of Art aims to honor Freelon’s legacy and work with its upcoming exhibit “Allan Freelon: Painter, Printmaker, Teacher.”

In this edition of Arts Playlist, Delaware Public Media’s Karl Lengel is joined by Brandywine senior curator Amanda Burdan for more on the exhibit.

Brandywine senior curator Amanda Burdan previews “Allan Freelon: Painter, Printmaker, Teacher” with Delaware Public Media’s Karl Lengel

The work of Philadelphia artist Allan Freelon comes to light next month.

The exhibition “Allan Freelon: Painter, Printmaker, Teacher” opens at the Brandywine Museum of Art in Chadds Ford in October.

The African-American artist grew up and worked his entire life in Philadelphia. Active during the creative explosion of the Harlem Renaissance, Freelon’s passion held him apart from many of his contemporaries.

Amanda Burdan, a senior curator at the Brandywine Museum of Art, says that

“though he lived and experienced Black life, some of his prints represent that he was in love, it seemed, with painting in the American Impressionist style, which he undertook criticism for because it was not considered part of Black cultural life. It was the purview of white men and, at that time, white women, as well.”

Freelon was often pressured by contemporaries to create work more reflective of his race.

But Brandywine Museum of Art senior curator Amanda Burdan says he stood by his principles both as an artist - and a teacher in the Philadelphia school system.

“And opening that door and saying, you know, if you want to sculpt in a neoclassical style, you do it, if you want to paint in an American Impressionist style, you do it. If you want to explore your African roots and become a printmaker, you do it.”

The Brandywine Museum of Art’s “Allan Freelon: Painter, Printmaker, Teacher” features 24 of the artist’s works.

It opens October 6th and runs until January 21, 2024.

Delaware Public Media' s arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Karl Lengel has worked in the lively arts as an actor, announcer, manager, director, administrator and teacher. In broadcast, he has accumulated three decades of on-air experience, most recently in New Orleans as WWNO’s anchor for NPR’s “All Things Considered” and a host for the broadcast/podcast “Louisiana Considered”.
Kyle McKinnon is a producer for The Green with a passion for storytelling and connecting with people.