Legendary Painter Ernie Barnes Dead At 70

AllHipHop Staff

AllHipHop.com has verified the passing of

acclaimed painter and football player Ernie Barnes, who died last Monday

(April 27) after an undisclosed illness.

Although a sports star in high school, segregation laws prevented Barnes

from admission at Duke and the University of North Carolina.

Instead, Barnes enrolled at North Carolina Central University on a

football scholarship while majoring in art.

He went on to play in the AFL league from 1960-1964 with the Redskins,

Colts, Chargers, and Broncos.

During his tenure, Barnes remained devoted to art, and in 1971 created

his seminal, post-mannerist painting “Sugar Shack.”

The work was prominently featured on the cover of Marvin Gaye’s

classic LP I Want You, and in the intro to the popular CBS

sitcom Good Times.

Barnes’ use of elongated black dancing figures and vibrant colors

became a popular trend in art, and led to many experts crediting him

with starting the Neo-Mannerism movement.

“Ernie Barnes is one of the premier figurative artists of the late

20th and early 21st centuries. His richly detailed paintings and

drawings chronicling the lives of people have made a profound

contribution to the contemporary history of American art,” stated Paul

Von Blum, Senior Lecturer in African American Studies, Communication

Studies, and Art History at University of California, Los Angeles.

“His depictions of life for over forty years elevated him to the top

rank of African American artists in the United States. His images of

dignity, both reflecting and advancing the powerful visions of his

mentor Charles White, have solidified his stature in the grand tradition

of visual art, a reputation that will serve as a model for younger

artists for generations to come.”

Barnes’ work also has had a direct impact on Hip-Hop culture.

In 1997, Bronx dup Camp Lo utilized the “Sugar Shack” painting as

the cover art for their classic debut Uptown Saturday Night.

In 2004, Kanye West commissioned him to create the painting “A Life

Restored,” a piece representing the rapper’s near fatal car accident

and recovery.

At press time, Barnes’ anticipated “Liberating Humanity From

Within” traveling exhibition will move forward as a posthumous