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Darrel Ellis, Untitled (Self Portrait from Museum Guard Photograph), 1990.
david ebony's 
new york top ten

Darrel Ellis
at art in general
November 7, 1996 - January 25, 1997
This show was one of the season's most 
widely anticipated. It does not disappoint. 
Darrel Ellis, an artist who died of AIDS at 
age 34 in 1992, has left an extensive and 
moving group of photo works. On view in 
this retrospective are many pieces he made 
using negatives left to him by his father, 
Thomas, an amateur photographer who, when 
Darrel was a baby, was killed by a head 
injury sustained after being arrested and 
hurled from a police car. In his work, 
Ellis has turned tragedy into triumph and 
today, in certain circles, he is nothing 
short of a super-hero. His art reveals a 
struggle that is deeply personal, but also 
reflects the struggle of the entire African 
American community. 
The works are fascinating on a formal 
level. Ellis altered his photographs in 
unusual and expressive ways, sometimes with 
paint, at other times by projecting the 
image onto textured surfaces to be 
rephotographed and reprinted, resulting in 
fantastic distortions. Scheduled to tour 
through May 1998, this retrospective will 
be talked about for a long time to come. 
Reviews 1996 Archives

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