Profile: Louis Delsarte (1944-2020)

Louis J. Delsarte was an African-American artist known for what has sometimes been called his “illusionistic”style. He was a painter, muralist, printmaker, and illustrator. 

When Delsarte was growing up, he was surrounded by music including jazz, opera, musicals, and the blues. From this experience, as well as from his knowledge of African history and culture, he has drawn much of the inspiration for his art. Delsarte was a professor of Fine Arts at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. For the past 13 years his work has been exhibited around the United States.

Education, exhibitions, and critical recognition

Born in Brooklyn, Delsarte went to high school in Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY, received a Certificate in Fine Arts Education from Brooklyn College, earned his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at New York’s Pratt Institute, and obtained a master’s degree in Fine Arts at the University of Arizona.

In 2001, Delsarte’s work was included as part of a national traveling exhibition entitled “When the Spirit Moves: African-American Dance in History and Art”. The traveling exhibition was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, having originated as a 1999-2000 exhibition at Spelman College (entitled “When the Spirit Moves: African American Art Inspired by Dance”.

In 2001, Delsarte completed a large public mural commissioned by the city of New York. The monumental work, entitled “Transitions”, is located at the Church Avenuestation, on the Brooklyn IRT line.

Delsarte received further national recognition in August 2005 when the United States Postal Service issued a stamp featuring a Delsarte painting. The stamp depicts the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, taken from a Delsarte painting created in 2000.

Also in 2005, Delsarte completed another monumental public mural, this one entitled “Spirit of Harlem”. The 30 ft X 11 ft glass mosaic was assembled in Munich, Germany, and is located at North Fork Bank on 125th Street in New York City.

In January 2010, Delsarte’s 125-foot-long Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Mural was dedicated at Peace Plaza in Atlanta, Georgia.

Significant critical recognition of Delsarte’s contribution to American art has included discussion of his work in Samella Lewis’s African American Art & Artists: a history of African American art from the seventeenth-century to the 1990s

His painting “Greenwood Lake”, inspired by summers spent at Greenwood Forest Farms, where Langston Hughes also lived for a time, was made into an oversized 6’6″ square panel for inclusion in the Greenwood Lake Mural Project by curator Melanie Gold. It can be viewed by the general public at 673 Jersey Ave in Greenwood Lake, NY. The project also includes works by other artists, and was featured in a New York Times article

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