Drawing by Charles White

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"Man"
Charles White 1959
Ink on Paper
Collection of Harry Belafonte

Born in the ghetto of Chicago in 1918, Charles White became one of the greatest African American artists of his day. Vallen was influenced by his powerful social realism and draftsmanship. In 1947 White traveled to Mexico with his wife at the time - Elizabeth Catlett - and both became members of the Taller de Grafica (TGP: Popular Arts Workshop), where they learned the art of lithography. White and Catlett had great affinity for the Mexican artists, thinking them closer to social realism than the painters back in the United States.

White and Catlett befriended Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Pablo O' Higgins. Siqueiros offered the couple the top floor of his home/studio while they stayed in Mexico.

White's influence upon Vallen's art is incalculable. The artist had the following to say concerning that influence: "I used to sit in on White's drawing classes at LA's Otis Art Institute and visit the Heritage Gallery on LA's westside where I could see his works on display. To me he was nothing short of a master."

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