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Anniversary Sale
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Museum Quality Fine Art Prints & Custom Framing

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James Little

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James Little is both a painter and a curator and he has been called a “defiant abstractionist.” He combines pigment, hot wax, and varnish to achieve a flat surface painted with geometric shapes and patterns. Little has studied color theory and painting techniques extensively, some of his influences have been artists Mark Rothko, Alma Thomas, and Franz Klein.

The artist grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. As an African American he was witness to the institutional racism in the segregated South that permeated every facet of life. The emotional scars of this has led him to not deal directly with race and racism in his art. He grew up not being aware of art until his older brother brought home drawings from school, so he started copying comics and learning how to draw. His mother encouraged him and gave him a Paint by Numbers kit. When he had completed it he used the paint to copy other art in the books she had brought home for him. He earned a BFA from the Memphis Academy of Art (now the Memphis College of Art) and in 1973, while still a student, his work was included in an exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center where it one the top award. He received an MFA from Syracuse University in 1976 and moved to New York City where he still lives.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority awarded him a commission for the LIRR Jamaica Station where Little’s installation, Radiant Memories, uses 33 colored glass panels to create an 85-foot stretch of gradated color that changes as the sun shifts during the day. He has also received Joan Mitchell Foundation award in 2008, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, and was inclluded in the 2022 Whitney Biennial. He says that his work “the kind of art that I like, the kind of art that I gravitate towards, has always been art that has theoretical underpinnings based on formalism and modernism; art that has never been about narrative.”

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