Charles White. Black Pope (Sandwich Board Man). 1973. Oil wash on board, 60 × 43 7/8" (152.4 × 111.4 cm). Richard S. Zeisler Bequest (by exchange), The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art, Committee on Drawings Fund, Dian Woodner, and Agnes Gund. © 2017 The Charles White Archives

Charles White (1918–1979) taught drawing in Los Angeles from the mid-1960s until the end of his life, and mentored a generation of students. Among them is David Hammons (American, born 1943), who studied with White early in his career. This exhibition, curated by Hammons, includes White's monumental work Black Pope (Sandwich Board Man)(1973), from The Museum of Modern Art’s collection, and a brush and ink drawing on blue prepared paper by the Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from the British Royal Collection. Created over 450 years apart, the two works share formal similarities and reveal a devotion to drawing by both artists, linking their lasting influence on future generations.

White and Leonardo also shared a more personal connection: both were born in the first half of April. With this in mind, Hammons commissioned Vedic astrologer Chakrapani Ullal to read both artists’ natal charts, also on view in the exhibition and discussed by Ullal on the accompanying audio guide. By presenting their destinies as written in the stars, Hammons shifts our attention from the gallery to the galaxy and asks us to consider commonalities between these two artists.

Appearing a year prior to the forthcoming MoMA exhibition Charles White: A Retrospective, this project begins the Museum’s consideration of White’s work and his legacy.

Organized by Esther Adler, Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints.

Charles White–Leonardo da Vinci. Curated by David Hammons is made possible through The Agnes Gund Artist's Choice Fund endowed by Iara Lee and George Gund III, Lulie and Gordon Gund, Ann and Graham Gund, and Sarah and Geoffrey Gund.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Exhibition Fund.

MoMA Audio is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Installation views

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA's collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

If you would like to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA, please contact Scala Archives (all geographic locations) at firenze@scalarchives.com.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA's archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.