The Art of Ellis Wilson
Ellis Wilson left very little documentation of his own works, and no one knows how many paintings he completed. The most comprehensive survey to date was undertaken in the late 1990s by Albert Sperath of Murray State University in Murray, KY, who was preparing a major retrospective exhibit on Wilson.
Sperath located archived references to more than 270 works—some of which may be alternate names for the same painting—but was able to locate only 86 paintings. Even among those, several had been known by more than one title at various times. Many are also undated, so a strict chronology is impossible. This gallery includes some of those works, plus other examples of Ellis Wilson paintings that have been “discovered” since the Murray exhibit thanks to the KET television documentary and web site. The titles used here are those preferred by the current owners
Meanwhile, Albert Sperath is still looking—and would like anyone with any clues to the whereabouts of more works by Ellis Wilson to contact him. See his curator’s essay for more details and contact information.
Where To See Ellis Wilson’s Art in Person
Some galleries and museums with one or more Ellis Wilson paintings in their collections:
- District of Columbia: Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington
- District of Columbia: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington
- Illinois: DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago
- Kentucky: Clara M. Eagle Gallery, Murray State University, Murray
- Kentucky: Speed Art Museum, Louisville
- Louisiana: Amistad Research Center, Tulane University, New Orleans—Funeral Procession is the most popular piece in the Center’s Aaron Douglas Collection.
- New York: Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York
- New York: Beverly Sacks Fine Art, New York
- North Carolina: North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh
- South Carolina: Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville
Notes from the spring 2000 traveling exhibit in Kentucky can be found at the University of Kentucky Art Museum archives.
The Neal Auction Company in New Orleans sometimes auctions Ellis Wilson works.