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Quentin Morris

by Synatra Smith, Ph.D. on 2022-03-24T12:00:00-04:00 in Black Artists | 0 Comments

African American painter Quentin Morris was born May 2, 1945, in Philadelphia. He grew up, lives, and works in the Point Breeze section of South Philadelphia; his basement studio was once his aunt’s hair salon. Morris attended Saturday-morning watercolor classes at the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia from fourth through eighth grade. Growing up, he also made visits to the Philadelphia Museum of Art with his father. Morris started painting monochromatic works in 1963 when he began attending the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied through 1967. He does not use titles or frames for his works, which are consistently black. Morris committed himself to exploring the complexities of blackness in his monochromatic works and undoing negative connotations of the color and racial stereotypes of Black people. He approaches painting in a way similar to that of jazz musicians who are able to create based on their technical expertise and ability to improvise. 

Morris received a fellowship at the Brandywine Workshop, founded by Allan L. Edmunds, in 1988. He has been practicing Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism since 1984, and his commitment to spirituality is revealed in his artwork vis-à-vis his Afro-Asiatic aesthetic. Earlier in his career, Morris wanted to move to New York, but at that time galleries were not hanging Black art so he stayed in Philadelphia. Reflecting on the art scene in Philadelphia, Morris stated, “People come here because you have all these world-renowned art schools.They would come here to be educated, but then they would move. Now they’re staying here, simply because it’s cheaper. . . . You have a great scene up in Fishtown and South Kensington.”[1]



[1] “Pew Fellow of the Week” 2019.



Artnet. n.d. “Quentin Morris.” Accessed January 25, 2022.

Mir, Stan. 2016. “And Then There Is Using Whatever Happens: Quentin Morris’s ‘Untitled.’” Hyperallergic. Accessed January 25, 2022.

“Pew Fellow of the Week: An Interview with Visual Artist Quentin Morris.” 2019. Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. Accessed January 25, 2022.

Pennsylvania Academy for the Fine Arts. n.d. “‘Quentin Morris’ Film Screening + Roundtable Discussion with Filmmaker Brice Goldberg and Quentin Morris.” Accessed January 25, 2022.

Weaver, A. M. 2016. “Artist Quentin Morris Explores the Color Black.” Philadelphia Inquirer. Accessed January 25, 2022.

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