Remembering Artist / Ernie Barnes | Edition VI

Ernie Barnes, an artist who with each stroke of his brush propelled modern “black art” into the mainstream during a time when the words “black” and “art” were deemed far from synonymous. As a one-time professional athlete in the NFL he said it best, One day on the playing field I looked up and the sun was breaking through the clouds, hitting the unmuddied areas on the uniforms, and I said, That’s beautiful!’… I knew then that it was all over being a player. I was more interested in art.”

His impact on the world of art will definitely live on despite his recent death. His artistic genius and bold, intense, and exaggerated technique will be flattered by imitation, adoption, and admiration for years to comes.

Ernie Barnes coveted work had been commissioned by the likes of Slyvester Stallone, The 1984 Olympic Games, Alex Hailey, Mary Tyler Moore, the NBA, Kanye West, and the list goes on and on. His most famed piece “Sugar Shack” was the endearing centerpiece in many scenes of Good Times, a staple television series in the African-American community during the 1970’s. Ernie Barnes legacy will be his impeccable ability to paint subjects in motion, specifically athletes, dancers, and youth. Barnes died on Monday, April 27th, 2009.

Words: I. Eugenia