— Paul Waggoner, Curator of Haitian Art: Selections from a Chicago Collection
“The gathering of so much good Haitian Art by one individual within a span of only eight years is truly amazing. After trips to Haiti, and the assistance of Francine Murat at Centre d’art in Port-au-Prince, galleries in New York, South Carolina, Florida, as well as Chicago, and his own instinctive good eye, Don Garrabrant assembled a premier collection of Haitian Art to be found in Chicago. Many collectors of art from Haiti have followed the false assumption that the only worthwhile works are those made by the early artist, i.e. before 1970. As this exhibition demonstrated the creative juices and passion for individual expression is an ongoing process in Haiti.”
Haitian Art: Selections From A Chicago Collection was made possible through the support from Karen Wehman, Mary Rosebraugh, Robert Ward, and Roger Lewin.
More than 100 paintings and sculptures by 47 noted artists of Haiti comprised this unique showing from the collection of Donald Garrabrant, a resident of Chicago. It was the first time a portion of Mr. Garrabrant’s extensive Haitian art collection was available for public view.
In the exhibition were several works by the “First Generation,” self-taught, intuitive Haitian painters who first received international attention in the late 1940s and early 1950s, including, Rigaud Benoit, Wilmino Damond, Gerard Vlacin, Robert St. Brice, Adam Leontus, Jasmin Joseph, Gervais, Emmanuel Ducasse, and Wilson Bigaud. Among the top artists to emerge from the mid-1950s through the 1960s, the show included works by George Liataud, Andre Pierre, Seymour Bottex, Micius Stephane, and Gesner Abelard. The Haitian artists whose talents were first recognized in the 1970s and early 1980s included Murat Brierre, Serge Jolimeau, Joseph Louisjust, Lafortune Felix, Nacius Hoseph, Prospere Pierre Louis, Louizane Saint Flouraunt, and Edouard Duval Carrie. Bringing the Haitian’s independent style of expression into the 1990s, the Garrabrant collection includes work by Gerard, the brothers Stivenson and Ramphis Magloire, Gabriel Arthus, Tchiali, and Valery.
A fully documented 64 page color catalogue accompanied the exhibition. It featured an introductory essay by Chicago art critic Michael Bonesteel, whose special interest is in the area of outsider, intuitive, and visionary art. The major text, by writer/poet Selden Rodman, discussed the evolution of the Haitian Art Movement. The Center also presented a series of lectures and films on Haitian art and culture in conjunction with the exhibition.