Legendary Painter Ernie Barnes Dead At 70
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 Gayes
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 rappers near fatal car accident
At press time, Barnes anticipated Liberating Humanity From
Within traveling exhibition will move forward as a posthumous