Hayward Oubre

USD $44.95



ISBN: 978-1-913875-63-3

184 pages

280 × 240 mm (9 ½ × 11 in)

132 colour illustrations

In association with the Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama

September 2024


A ground-breaking book devoted to the life and work of Hayward Oubre brings together important examples of Oubre’s sculptures, paintings, and prints to explore his career, creative process, and legacy.

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Best known for his wire sculptures, Hayward L. Oubre, Jr. (1916–2006), was an important Black American artist and educator, who has until now received little attention from scholars and museums. He created sculptures, paintings, and prints that tested the bounds of each of these mediums. These works share a previously untold history of American modernism rooted in the South. Academically-trained, Oubre worked with an everyday material—wire coat hangers—that led some early critics to associate his sculpture with folk art, despite wire rising to prominence as a material for modernist sculptors in this period.

While making his art he also trained a subsequent generation of artists through his teaching, first at Alabama State College (now Alabama State University), from 1949 to 1965, and then at Winston-Salem State University, from 1965 to 1981, both Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Within Oubre’s story is a history of Alabama art shaping American art that has never been written. This new volume, and its accompanying exhibition, will begin to tell this story, laying the foundation for future projects on the work of Black artists in Alabama and the South.

Author biographies

Katelyn D. Crawford is the William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, AL.

Amalia K. Amaki is an artist, art historian, educator, film critic and curator.

Rebecca L. Giordano is an art historian and curator who specializes in race, gender, and transnational exchange in the Americas in the twentieth century.

Shawnya L. Harris is the deputy director of Curatorial and Academic Affairs and the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of African American and African Diasporic Art at Georgia Museum of Art, GA.

Marin R. Sullivan is a Chicago-based art historian, curator, educator, and consultant. 

Diana Tuite is the visiting senior curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Stanley Museum of Art, University of Iowa.

Hina M. Zaidi is the curatorial assistant at the Birmingham Museum of Art, AL.


Table of Contents

  • Director’s Foreword, Graham C. Boettcher
  • Acknowledgements
  • Structural Integrity by Katelyn D. Crawford
  • Perspective on Hayward Oubre by Anthony Green
  • Meetings with a Remarkable Man by Carter B. Cue
  • Discovering Hayward Oubre by Brenda and Larry Thompson
  • Uncrossed Wires: Miscegenation from the Inside Out by Amalia K. Amaki
  • Plates 1—13
  • A Rich Background: Hayward Oubre and the Iowa Idea(l) by Diana Tuite
  • Trees of Learning: Hayward Oubre, Hale Woodruff, Selma Burke, and Art Education in Southern HBCUs by Rebecca Giordano
  • Plates 14—30
  • Hayward Oubre: The Painter by Shawnya L. Harris
  • Outside the Lines by Marin R. Sullivan
  • Plates 31—52
  • A Great Mentor Makes Great Artists by Noah Jemisin
  • The Legacy of H. L. Oubre by Floyd W. Coleman, Sr.
  • Mr Oubre as My Teacher by Paul A. Gary
  • Chronology by Hina M. Zaidi and Katelyn D. Crawford
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index
  • Typography Credits
  • Photography Credits