The Estate of Winfred Rembert

Photo: Renan Ozturk

Winfred Rembert (1945 – 2021) was born in Americus, Georgia and grew up in nearby Cuthbert, a rural railroad town located in the southwest region of the state, once at the center of the Deep South’s plantation economy.  Living in Cuthbert during the era of Jim Crow, Rembert was exposed at a young age to the exploitative practices of the sharecropping system. Spending much of his childhood alongside family members working in the fields, Rembert received a limited education. Despite the infrequency of his attendance, a dedicated teacher by the name of Miss Prather recognized Rembert’s artistic talent and encouraged him to express his creativity through drawing.

As a teenager, Rembert was deeply influenced by the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement in Americus, where his active participation led to confrontations with law enforcement. In 1965, while attending a peaceful protest which was attacked by white antagonists, he fled from the assailants in a stolen car and was subsequently arrested for the theft. In 1967, still incarcerated while awaiting charges, Rembert escaped from jail. Following his ensuing capture by an angry white mob, Rembert survived a near-lynching. For the next seven years of his life, he was transferred to multiple penitentiaries within the Georgia prison system, enduring taxing physical labor while working on various chain gangs—a harrowing experience that would later prove central to the narrative of his extraordinary art.

Rembert learned how to tool and craft leather from a fellow prisoner—the technique he would later use to share his story with the world. Following his release from prison in 1974, Rembert married Patsy Gammage; the couple eventually settled in New Haven, Connecticut, and raised a family there. At the age of fifty-one, with his wife’s encouragement, Rembert began a full-time artistic practice. Combining his mastery of leather working with his skilled draftsmanship, he built a unique body of autobiographical paintings and continued to make art for nearly twenty-five years, before his death on March 31, 2021, at the age of 75.

Over the course of his career, Rembert embraced a variety of styles and pictorial strategies. His works range from purely illustrative to extremely complex compositions that verge on abstraction. In many of the early paintings, the materiality of Rembert’s media is immediately apparent. In such works, he rendered his figures in muted tones to compliment the natural color of the leather backgrounds. In other works, bright-colored pigments cover the entire surface of densely packed compositions. Over time, Rembert’s compositions accrued as a chronicle of his life, through pictorial landscapes of cotton fields and rhythmic compositions of field workers, freedom marches, church services, juke joints, and chain gangs in the Jim Crow south. In its narrative and formal qualities, Rembert’s work, with its corporeal texture, intense color, powerful patterns, and depictions of both hardship and pleasure, takes its place among the oeuvres of the most influential American figurative masters.

The York Square Cinema in New Haven launched a solo exhibition of Rembert’s leather paintings in 1998. Exhibitions followed at the Yale University Art Gallery and in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, among other locales and, in 2012, the artist received his first major solo museum presentation: ‘Amazing Grace’ debuted at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, New York, before travelling to four additional venues. This mid-career survey included more than fifty works and incorporated historical photographs of Georgia, as well as gospel music recorded and performed in the Museum’s galleries by Rembert. ‘Amazing Grace’ also showcased the feature-length documentary ‘All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert’ (2011), produced and directed by Vivian Ducat. When reminiscing on the title of the exhibition, the artist stated, ‘Amazing Grace is one of the songs I remember that was sung in the fields. I just loved to listen to the singing. Singing was the only thing about the fields that I loved.’

Winfred Rembert’s work is represented in the permanent collections of the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; The High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Equal Justice Initiative, Montgomery, AL; and the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY. Rembert’s work was highlighted in major exhibitions at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, AL in 2013; the Flint Institute of the Arts, Flint, MI in 2013; the Citadelle Art Foundation, Canadian, Texas in 2012; the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY in 2012; the Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC in 2012; the Adelson Galleries, New York in 2010, and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT in 2000.

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Winfred Rembert

Biography

Print Biography
Born
Americus GA, 1945
Died
New Haven CT, 2021

Solo Exhibitions

2021
Fort Gansevoort, ‘Winfred Rembert: 1945-2021’, Fort Gansevoort, New York, NY
2018 – 2019
The Butler Institute of American Art, ‘Southern Roots: The Paintings of Winfred Rembert’, Youngstown, OH
2017
The Muskegon Museum of Arts, ‘Southern Roots: The Paintings of Winfred Rembert’, Muskegon, MI
2016
Catamount Arts, ‘Winfred Rembert: An Artful Response’, St. Johnsbury, VT
2015
New Haven Museum, ‘Winfred Rembert: Amazing Grace’, New Haven, CT
2013 – 2014
Danforth Art Museum, ‘Winfred Rembert: Beyond Memory’, Framingham, MA
2013
Flint Institute of Arts and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, ‘Winfred Rembert: Amazing Grace’, Flint, MI and Montgomery, AL
Tillou Fine Art, ‘Winfred Rembert’, New York, NY
2012
Hudson River Museum, ‘Winfred Rembert: Amazing Grace‘, Yonkers, NY, Greenville County Museum of Art, SC, and The Citadelle Art Foundation, Canadian, TX
2010
Adelson Galleries, ‘Winfred Rembert: Memories of My Youth’, New York, NY
1998
York Square Cinema, New Haven, CT
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Selected Group Exhibitions

2022
Florence Griswold Museum, ‘Dreams & Memories’, Old Lyme, CT
North Carolina Museum of Art, ’Start Talking: Contemporary Art from the Collection of Hedy Fischer and Randy Shull’, Raleigh, NC
22 London, ‘Mirror Mirror’, Asheville, NC
2021 – 2022
Adelson Galleries, ‘Winfred & Mitchell Rembert: Father and Son’, New York, NY
Greenville County Museum of Art, ‘Soul Deep: African-American Masterworks’, Greenville, SC
2020 – 2022
Hudson River Museum, ‘Landscape Art & Virtual Travel: Highlights from the Collections of the HRM & Art Bridges’, Yonkers, NY
2020 – 2021
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, ‘Protest and Promise: Selections from the Contemporary Art Collection 1963-2019’, Hartford, CT
2020
Hudson River Museum, ‘Collection Spotlight: Derrick Adams Selects’, Yonkers, NY
2015
Adelson Galleries, ‘Fall Exhibition: Five Artists, Jacob Collins, Federico Uribe, Winfred Rembert, Andrew Stevovich, Jamie Wyeth’, New York, NY
2002
Kresge Gallery, ‘Willie Birch and Winfred Rembert (African American Series Exhibition 1)’, Ramapo College, Mahwah, NJ
2000
Yale University Art Gallery, ‘Southern Exposure: Works by Winfred Rembert and Hale Woodruff’, New Haven, CT
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Grants, Awards and Honors

2022
Pulitzer Prize winner for Biography/Autobiography
2016
United States Artists Barr Fellowship
2015
Honored by Equal Justice Initiative
2011
“Winfred Rembert Day” declared in Cuthbert, Georgia
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Public Collections

Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX

Citadelle Art Foundation, Canadian, TX

Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR

Flint Institute of the Arts, Flint, MI

Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

Glenstone, Potomac, MD

Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC

High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY

Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles, CA

Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, AL

Muskegon Museum of Art, Youngstown, OH

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Richard M. Ross Museum of Art, Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH

Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT

Bibliography

Bibliography

2023
Durón, Maximilíano, 'Hauser & Wirth and Fort Gansevoort to Co-Represent Winfred Rembert Estate', on: artnews.com, 19 January 2023, ill.
2022
Grant, Cat, ‘MIA announces acquisitions that expand their American art collection’, Daily Planet, September 8
Bass, Paul, ‘Time For A Winfred Rembert Museum?’, New Haven Independent, May 20
Van Atten, Suzanne, ‘Book Notes: Georgia author wins posthumous Pulitzer Prize’, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 13
Valentine, Victoria L, ‘Latest News in Black Art: Late Artist Winfred Rembert Wins Pulitzer, Barkley L. Hendricks and Wangechi Mutu Acquisitions, Plus Rome Prize Recipients & More’, Culture Type, May 13
Bass, Paul, ‘Winfred Rembert Wins Posthumous Pulitzer’, New Haven Independent, May 11
Craven, Tina Marie, ‘CT artist posthumously wins Pulitzer for memoir about Jim Crow South’, CT Insider, May 11
‘Late South Ga. author wins Pulitzer’, WALB News 10, May 11
Bowker, Brittany, ‘Tufts philosopher Erin Kelly wins Pulitzer Prize for biography written with artist Winfred Rembert’, Boston Globe, May 10
Italie, Hillel, ‘Joshua Cohen, the late Winfred Rembert win arts Pulitzers’, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, May 10
Kraus, Joseph, ‘Prize-winning ‘Netanyahus’ author says it’s also about Trump’, The Seattle Times, May 10
Bowker, Brittany, ‘Tufts philosopher Erin Kelly wins Pulitzer Prize for biography written with artist Winfred Rembert’, The Boston Globe, May 10
Abrams, Amah-Rose, ‘Two Visual Artists, Winfred Rembert and Raven Chacon, Have Been Awarded Pulitzer Prizes for Biography and Music’, Artnet News, May 10
‘Pulitzer Prizes 2022: A Guide to the Winning Books and Finalists’, New York Times, May 9
Greenberger, Alex, ‘Painter Winfred Rembert Posthumously Wins a Pulitzer for His Blistering Memoir of Racism and Incarceration’, ARTnews, May 9
Gibson, Lydialyle, ‘The 2022 Pulitzer Prizes’, Harvard Magazine, May 9
Bengal, Rebecca, ‘Coda For Winfred Rembert’, Oxford American, Spring
Smith, Roberta, ‘What to See in N.Y.C. Galleries Right Now’, The New York Times, January 13
Valentine, Victoria L, ‘Lives: A Look Back at Notable Artists and Designers Who Died in 2021, From Judson Powell to Winfred Rembert and Virgil Abloh’, Culture Type, January 7
Davis, Ben, ‘From Immersive Everything to the Rise of Museum Unions, These 7 Trends Defined the Art World in 2021—and Will Shape the Year to Come’, Artnet, January 3
2021
Lang, Joel, ‘Artist and lynching survivor Winfred Rembert shares his life story in a posthumous memoir’, Connecticut Magazine, December 31
‘Art World Luminaries Who Died in 2021’, ARTnews, December 30
‘In Memoriam 2021: Notables who Passed Away This Year’, Birmingham Times, December 30
‘In Memoriam: Remembering the Curators, Artists, Writers, and Dealers We Lost in 2021’, Artnet, December 29
‘New EJI Books Educate Readers About Injustice’, Black Star News, December 24
Saltz, Jerry, ‘The Best New York Art Shows of 2021’, New York Magazine, December 17
McNeil, Taylor, ‘A Life Survived in the Jim Crow South’, TuftsNow, December 14
Cameron, Dan, ‘ArtSeen: Winfred Rembert: 1945-2021’, The Brooklyn Rail,
December 9
Collins, Ann C, ‘ArtSeen: Winfred Rembert: 1945-2021’, The Brooklyn Rail,
December 9
Taylor, Shakeia, ‘Ride Hell for Leather’, Victory Journal, Fall 2021
Novick, Ilana, ‘Visceral Take on Jim Crow South in ‘Winfred Rembert, 1945-2021’’, Art & Object, November 30
Greenberger, Alex, ‘Artist Jesse Krimes’s Struggle to Overcome Years in Prison Showcased in New Documentary’, ARTnews, November 26
Scott, Chadd, ‘Around New York’, Forbes, November 3
Chambers, Christopher Hart, ‘Winfred Rembert: 1945-2021’, Dart International Magazine, October 12
Urist, Jacoba, ‘Every American Should See Artist Winfred Rembert’s Pivotal Truths’, Cultured Magazine, October 8
Lebrun, Sylvan, ‘Exhibit opens honoring life and art of Winfred Rembert, long-time New Haven resident’, Yale Daily News, October 8
Mobilio, Albert, ‘The Escape Artist’, Bookforum, Fall 2021
Packard, Cassie, ‘Your Concise New York Art Guide for October 2021’, Hyperallergic, September 30
‘Winfred Rembert, 1945–2021‘, Air Mail, September 28
‘Winfred Rembert: 1945-2021 at Fort Gansevoort in October, 2021’, GothamToGoArt & Culture, September 21
Tracey O’Shaughnessy. ‘Winfred Rembert: Memoir from Beyond the Grave’, Republican American, August 28
Greenberger, Alex, ‘Fort Gansevoort Now Represents the Estate of Winfred Rembert’, ARTnews, May 24
‘An Artist on How He Survived the Chain Gang’, The New Yorker, May 3
Rembert, Winfred, and Erin. I. Kelly, ‘Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South’, New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing
Riederer, Rachel, ‘Life after Lynching in ‘Ashes to Ashes’’, The New Yorker, January 13
Seelye, Katharine Q, ‘Winfred Rembert, 75, Dies; Turned Painful Memories Into Art’, The New York Times, April 4
Winfred & Mitchell Rembert: Father and Son, New York, NY: Adelson Galleries
2018
Dewey, Charlsie, ‘Artist Winfred Rembert Documents Black Life with his Paintings’, Grand Rapids Magazine, February 5
2017
Clarke, Terence, ‘The Art of Winfred Rembert’, HUFFPOST, December 6
2013
Heinlein, Sabine, ‘A Black Outsider Artist in a White Art World’, HYPERALLERGIC, February 19
McQuaid, Cate, ‘What’s up at Boston-area art galleries’, The Boston Globe, February 12
2012
Oppenheimer, Ann, ‘The Indelible Images of Winfred Rembert’, Folk Art Society of America
Schwendener, Martha, ‘Odyssey Through Jim Crow Era, Carved in Leather’, The New York Times, March 16
Wolcott, James, ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Chain-Ganger’, Vanity Fair, February
05
‘Winfred Rembert: Amazing Grace Images on Leather at the Hudson River Museum’, ArtDaily
Winfred Rembert: Amazing Grace, Yonkers, NY: Hudson River Museum
2010
Karlins, N.F, ‘Folk Art Notebook’, Artnet. April 29

2009
Hankin, Lisa Bush, editor, ‘Winfred Rembert: Memories of My Youth’, Adelson Galleries

2000
King, Chris, ‘ART; A Lifetime Patiently Etched Into Leather’, The New York Times, December 24
Kuehl, Claudia, ‘Beyond the Fringe; Outside Art, Whatever That Is, May Now Be In’, The New York Times, July 23
Zimmer, William, ‘ART; Faces in Photographs; A Region Vividly Portrayed’, The New York Times, September 17
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Films

2019
’Ashes to Ashes’, directed by Taylor Rees and Renan Ozturk, documentary, May 24.

2011
’All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert’, directed by Vivian Ducat, documentary, October 13.
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Museum Exhibitions

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Events

Thu 23 Mar 2023, 6:30
Monaco

As part of the Festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo, please join us for a reading of poems by Anna Akhmatova. 6.30 pm Talk ‘Alexander Scriabin, pianist and poet’ with Jean-Yves Clément, writer, and Bruno Mantovani, artistic director of the festival, moderated by Tristan Labouret, musicologist…
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Sat 25 Feb 2023, 10:30
Somerset

Do you have items of clothing in need of repair? Would you like to learn how to mend them for a longer life with patches, scraps and simple stitches? Hauser & Wirth Somerset is delighted to host the Bruton-based community group, One Planet Bruton, for two…
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Book Lab

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Films

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Ursula magazine

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