DANNY SIMMONS
(b. 1953)

 

For over four decades, Danny Simmons (b. 1953) has created paintings, works on paper, and assemblage informed by the spirit imbued in indigenous and African cultures. As the founder of the artistic movement Neo-African Abstract Expressionism, Simmons reclaims traditional African motifs used in modernism through his use of dots, textiles, and tribal markings. Simmons is an author, poet, philanthropist, curator, co-creator of Def Poetry Jam, and founder, along with his brothers, Russell Simmons and Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons, of the renowned Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. Through the non-profit organization, Rush Arts Gallery NYC and Rush Arts Philadelphia have served as important cultural hubs providing exhibitions, arts education and opportunities for hundreds of emerging, developing and underrepresented artists of color since 1995. Simmons is also a collector of contemporary art and African sculpture. 

 

Portrait of artist Danny Simmons in an african textile shirt and bright orange glasses

Danny Simmons, 2022. Photograph by Todd Agostini.

Courtesy the artist and Westwood Gallery NYC.

His artworks are in private and museum collections including the Brooklyn Museum, Houston Museum of African American Culture, Montclair Art Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, The Smithsonian, Chase Manhattan Bank, United Nations, and other collections.


WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC is the exclusive worldwide representative for artist Danny Simmons.

For any inquiries regarding acquisition, artwork prices, or exhibition, please contact the gallery at info@westwoodgallery.com.

Artwork © Danny Simmons.

ARTWORK, 2021-2022
PAINTING AND FABRIC ASSEMBLAGE

 
“My concept is to place spirit into the creation of my artwork much like indigenous artisans place spirit into inanimate sculpture. My technique is to paint in complete silence and isolation and hopefully allow intellect and spiritual influence to guide my painting.”
- Danny Simmons

WORKS ON PAPER

 

 

Danny Simmons’ nonrepresentational paintings and assemblage have their roots in both modernism and indigenous peoples’ artwork. At the beginning of his artistic career, Simmons created surrealist canvases, taking inspiration from artists such as Wilfredo Lam, Norman Lewis, Cy Twombly, and Outtara Watts. As he transitioned to fully nonrepresentational painting, Simmons developed his trademark Neo African Abstract Expressionist style centering around the visual motif of dots and traditional tribal markings. 


In his studio, Simmons is surrounded by his large collection of African art, which is a source of boundless energy and inspiration for his own practice, giving him visual cues and provoking him to push the boundaries of his work. His African collection includes sculpture from Congo, Mali, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Benin, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Ghana, West Africa, and many other nations. The focus of his collection is on power figures, sculptures embodied with a divine source with a purpose to assist a person or people in their quest for better health, wealth, security, protection and other life purposes.
 

 

BIOGRAPHY

Born in Jamaica, Queens, Danny Simmons holds a BA in Social Work from New York University, a Master’s in Public Finance from Long Island University, and an honorary Ph.D. from Long Island University. 


Simmons is a self-taught painter, influenced by his mother who was a painter herself. His father was a poet and professor, who graduated from Howard University with a degree in African American history, and subsequently taught African American Studies at Pratt University. 


In the late 1970s, Danny first began experimenting with painting in his first studio in a Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone. Later, he moved to a loft in Williamsburg, but by the 1980s moved back to the brownstone, where he opened his own exhibition space, the Sanctuary Gallery in 1988. His first series of works was developed in 1992, and his first solo exhibition was at the Annex Gallery in Tribeca. 


In 1995, he and his two brothers started Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation to benefit children by fostering interest in the arts. Rush Philanthropic operated Rush Arts Gallery in New York City, headed by visual artist Derrick Adams, and The Corridor Gallery in Brooklyn, located below Simmons’ studio and home. The galleries exhibited emerging, disenfranchised, and underrepresented artists of color, some of whom include important contemporary artists today, such as Simone Leigh, Kalup Linzy, Mickalene Thomas, Kehinde Wiley, and Wangechi Mutu. 


In addition to his art practice and philanthropy, Danny Simmons is also a poet, author, curator, and noted collector of contemporary art and African sculpture.


Danny Simmons’ artwork is exhibited internationally and collected by major institutions and private collectors. Selected museum exhibitions include the Studio Museum in Harlem, Ghana National Museum, Parish Gallery, and Washington D.C. among others. His artworks are in private and museum collections such as the Brooklyn Museum, Montclair Art Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, The Smithsonian, and others. He is a former board member of the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the New York Foundation of the Arts, and a former Chairman of the NYC Council on the Arts. In 2019, he was appointed to the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s African American Collections Committee.

 

 

EXHIBITIONS

SEP 10 - NOV 12, 2022
WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC

Click to view our 2022 exhibition Danny Simmons: The Long and Short of It

EXHIBITION HISTORY

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2022 - Danny Simmons: The Long and Short of It, Westwood Gallery NYC

2022 - Homecoming: Danny Simmons, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Queens, New York

2022 - Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Jamaica, New York
2022 - Town and Culture Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2022 - Hudson Guild Gallery, New York City
2022 - Danny Simmons: Selected Works, August Wilson African American Cultural Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2021 - Abstract Explosion: The Art of Danny Simmons, The Houston Museum of African American Culture
2021 - In Liquid Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
2019 - Danny Simmons: Alone Together, George Billis Gallery, Westport, Connecticut 
2018 - Danny Simmons Blended: Fabric & Paint, Claflin University Arthur Rose Museum, Orangeburg, South Carolina
2017 - Hoppin’ The Hoodoo Express: The Art of Danny Simmons, Harlem School of the Arts, New York City 
2015 - Badass Art Man: Danny Simmons, African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA
2014 - Noisy in the Next Room: Danny Simmons, Skylight Gallery, New York City
2014 - I Dreamed My People Were Calling, But I Couldn't Find My Way Home, Gallery1, Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi
2010 - The Art Gallery of Queensborough Community College, New York, New York
2010 - Wheels Within Wheels, Tabla Rasa Gallery, Brooklyn, New York
2009 - Atlanta Gallery, Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta
2009 - Danny Simmons Transitions, Bill Hodges Gallery, 2009 
2009 - Spanierman Gallery, East Hampton, New York
2008 - Pinnacle Gallery, Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta
2007 - Lana Woods Gallery, Harlem, New York
2006 - University College Art Gallery, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey
2005 - Tastes Like Chicken Art Space, Brooklyn
2005 - National Center of Afro-American Arts, Roxbury Massachusetts
2004 - Ellen Powell Tiberino Memorial Museum, Philadelphia Dance Theater Workshop Gallery, New 
York
2003 - South Side Arts Center, Chicago, Illinois
2003 - Tubman African-American Museum, Macon, Georgia
2003 - Parish Gallery, Washington, DC
2002 - Danny Simmons: Book of Spells, Merz Gallery, Sag Harbor, New York
2002 - Danny Simmons: Visceral Scapes, Iandor Gallery, Newark, New Jersey
2002 - Sugar Hill Art Center, New York City
2001 - Fire Patrol No. 5 Art, New York City
2001 - Noel Gallery, Charlotte, North Carolina
2001 - Hammonds House, Atlanta, Georgia

2000 - Danny Simmons: Primal Scream, UFA Gallery, New York, New York
2000 - Recent Drawings, Bridgehampton Cultural Center, Bridgehampton, New York
2000 - Kubatana Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia
2000 - Chase Manhattan Bank, Headquarters and Brooklyn Branch, New York, New York
2000 - HSBC Bank, New York City
1999 - Recent Works, UFA Gallery, New York City
1999 - Paterson Museum, New Jersey
1999 - Clinton Hill Simply Art Gallery, New York City
1999 - New Works, Bridgehampton Cultural Center, Bridgehampton, New York
1999 - New York City Groove, A+ Resources, Bakehouse Art Complex, Miami, Florida
1999 - New York City Groove, Noel Gallery, Charlotte, North Carolina
1999 - New Works, Marion Alexander Gallery, New York City
1998 - First World Gallery, Washington D.C.
1998 - Danny Simmons: Recent Works, Ricco/Maresca Gallery, National Black Fine Arts Show, New York City
1998 - Ways of Seeing: Danny Simmons, Montclair State University Art Gallery, Montclair, New Jersey
1997 - Reappropriations: Danny Simmons, Aljira Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, New Jersey
1997 - Clinton Hill Simply Art Gallery, New York City
1996 - Danny Simmons, Carver Federal Savings Bank, New York City 
1996 - Clinton Hill Simply Art Gallery, New York City
1995 - Common Boundaries Art Gallery, Jersey City, New Jersey
1995 - Thought Forms Underground Gallery, New York City
1995 - Clinton Hill Simply Art Gallery, New York City
1994 - Clinton Hill Simply Art Gallery, New York City
1994 - Gallery Annex, New York City
1993 - Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
1993 - Tar Studios, New York City
1992 - L. Cohen Private Show, New York City

 
 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2022 - Bill Hodges Gallery, New York City 
2022 - Conserving Legacies: Past, Present and Future, The Arts Center Gallery, Fayetteville, North Carolina 
2021 - Bill Hodges Gallery, New York City
2021 - Clairon Call, Mariposa Museum, Oak Bluffs, Marta’s Vineyard, Massachusetts 
2021 - Imlay Gallery, Montclair, New Jersey
2020 - The New Magic, September Gray Fine Art Gallery, Atlanta Georgia 
2020 - Tabla Rasa Gallery, Brooklyn, New York
2020 - Virtual Exhibition, September Fine Arts Gallery, Georgia 
2020 - The Metaphysics of Abstraction, University of Hawaii Campus Center Gallery, Hawaii.
2016 - American Banned, Miami, Florida
2012 - Strivers Garden Gallery, New York City
2004 - Open House, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York

2003 - Garment Magical, Skylight Gallery, Brooklyn, New York
2003 - Noel Gallery, Black Fine Arts Show, New York City
2002 - Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland
2002 - No Greater Love, Jack Tilton Gallery, New York City
2002 - Ghana National Museum, Accra, Ghana
2002 - Yasscine Art Center, Dakar, Senegal
2002 - Art Folk and Fine, Medgar Evers College, New York City
2001 - Skoto Gallery, Chelsea, New York City
2001 - Fairleigh Dickerson University, New Jersey
2000 - New Acquisitions, Hampton Museum, Hampton, Virginia
2000 - Eclectic Africana, Kingston, New York
2000 - In the Spirit, Studio Museum in Harlem
2000 - African Inspiration, Hudson Guild Gallery, New York City
2000 - The Art Center of Northern New Jersey, New Milford, New Jersey
2000 - UFA Gallery, National Black Fine Arts Show, New York City
2000 - Seth Taffae, National Black Fine Arts Show, New York City
2000 - Corridor Gallery, National Black Fine Arts Show, New York City
2000 - Right About Now Event, Amsterdam, Holland
1999 - Black and Jews, Jewish Museum, New York City
1999 - Mumia 911, Georgia Adams Gallery, New York City
1999 - Size Matters, Gayle Gates Gallery, New York City
1999 - Bridgehampton Fine Art Show, (Bearden, Lewis, Lawrence, Thompson, etc.), Bridgehampton, New York
1999 - Mumia – 911, Brecht Forum, New York City
1999 - Summer Salon, Peter Findlay Gallery, New York City
1999 - 3rd Annual Multi Cultural Exhibition, African American Museum, Hempstead, New York
1999 - Rhythm, Pattern, Color: the Drum, Grand Army Plaza Arch Gallery, New York City
1999 - The Spirit Lives On, Special Tribute to Abdul Rahman, Skylight Gallery, New York City
1999 - The Shaping of Black America in the 20th Century, Adam Clayton Powel State Office Building, New York City
1999 - Eclecticism in African-American Art, Newburgh Free Library, Newburgh, New York
1999 - Locating the Spirit: Religion and Spirituality in African-American Art, Anacostia Museum, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.
1998 - Black Artist of the 20th Century, Schomburg Center for Black Culture, New York City
1998 - Art Show, Inauguration of East Brooklyn Congregation High School, New York City
1998 - Building Bridges Through The Visual Arts, St. Mary of Zion Church, New York City
1998 - Urban Expressions: Danny Simmons, Gregory Coasts, & Chakaia Booker, Skylight Gallery, New York City
1998 - Sankofa V, Corridor Gallery, New York City
1997 - National Black Fine Arts Show, New York City
1997 - Peter Findlay Gallery, New York City
1997 - Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City
1997 - Fantastic Doodles, Handmade Notations, Longwood Arts Gallery, Bronx Council on the Arts, Bronx, New York City
1996 - Long Island University, New York City
1996 - Rush Arts Gallery, Rush Arts Foundation, New York City
1995 - Sankofa II, Jupiter Interactive, SoHo, New York City
1994 - Spells & Incantations/From Roots to San Salvador, New York City
1994 - Contemporary Art Gallery, SoHo, New York City
1994 - Small Works, Gallery Annex, New York City
1994 - St. John the Divine Cathedral, New York City
1994 - The Bronx Council on the Arts, Bronx, New York City
1994 - Sankofa I, Gallery Annex, New York City
1993 - Together Strong, Puck Building, New York City
1993 - Unity, Rainbow Building, New York City
1993 - The Broome Street Gallery, SoHo, New York City
1993 - The Harlem Street Gallery, New York City
1992 - Uhdo Gallery, New York City
1992 - Webo Gallery, New York City
1992 - The Broome Street Gallery, New York City

 

SELECTED COLLECTIONS

Air Products Corp

Brooklyn Academy of Music
Brooklyn Museum
Houston Museum of African American Culture 
Chase Manhattan Bank
David Driscoll Collection
Deutsche Bank  
Montclair State Museum
Muscarelle Museum
New Jersey State Museum
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art
Petrucci Family Foundation
Queensboro College
Revlon 

Schomburg Center for Black Culture
Smithsonian
United States State Department, Suriname Embassy
United Nations
William and Mary College
Woodmere Museum