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 nationally and 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 - Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Queens, New York
2022 - Town and Culture Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2022 - Hudson Guild Gallery, New York, NY
2022 - August Wilson African American Cultural Center, Pittsburgh, PA
2021 - The Houston Museum of African American Culture, Houston, TX
2021 - In Liquid Gallery, Philadelphia, PA 
2018 - Arthur Rose Museum, Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC
2017 - Harlem School of the Arts, New York, NY
2015 - African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA
2014 - Skylight Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2014 - Jackson State University, Jackson, MS
2010 - The Art Gallery of Queensborough Community College, New York, NY
2010 - Tabla Rasa Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2009 - Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta, GA
2009 - Bill Hodges Gallery, New York, NY
2009 - Spanierman Gallery, East Hampton, NY
2008 - Pinnacle Gallery, Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta, GA
2007 - Lana Woods Gallery, New York, NY
2006 - University College Art Gallery, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, NJ 
2005 - Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Roxbury, MA
2004 - Ellen Powell Tiberino Memorial Museum of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA
2003 - South Side Community Art Center, Chicago, IL
2003 - Tubman African American Museum, Macon, GA
2003 - Parish Gallery, Washington DC
2002 - Merz Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY
2002 - Iandor Fine Arts, Newark, NJ 
2001 - Noel Gallery, Charlotte, NC
2001 - Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta, GA
2000 - UFA Gallery, New York, NY
2000 - Bridgehampton Cultural Center, Bridgehampton, NY
2000 - Kubatana Gallery, Atlanta, GA 
1999 - UFA Gallery, New York, NY
1999 - Paterson Museum, Paterson, NJ 
1999 - Bridgehampton Cultural Center, Bridgehampton, NY
1999 - Noel Gallery, Charlotte, NC
1999 - Marion Alexander Gallery, New York, NY
1998 - Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York, NY
1998 - Montclair State University Art Gallery, Montclair, NJ
1997 - Aljira Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, NJ 
1995 - Thought Forms Underground Gallery, New York, NY 
1994 - Gallery Annex, New York, NY
1993 - Yale University, New Haven, CT

 
 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2022 - Bill Hodges Gallery, New York, NY
2022 - The Arts Center Gallery, Fayetteville, NC 
2021 - Bill Hodges Gallery, New York, NY
2021 - Mariposa Museum, Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, MA
2021 - Imlay Gallery, Montclair, NJ
2020 - September Gray Fine Art Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2020 - Tabla Rasa Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2020 - September Gray Fine Arts Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2020 - University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 
2013 - Southampton Cultural Center, Southampton Village, NY
2012 - Strivers Gardens Gallery, New York, NY
2004 - Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
2003 - Skylight Gallery, Brooklyn, NY 
2002 - Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
2002 - Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, NY
2002 - National Museum of Ghana, Accra, Ghana
2002 - Yassine Art Center, Dakar, Senegal
2002 - Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn, NY
2001 - Skoto Gallery, Chelsea, New York, NY
2001 - Fairleigh Dickerson University, Teaneck, NJ
2000 - Hampton University Museum, Hampton, VA 
2000 - Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY
2000 - Hudson Guild Galleries, New York, NY
2000 - The Art Center of Northern New Jersey, New Milford, NJ
2000 - UFA Gallery, New York, NY 
2000 - Corridor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY 
1999 - Jewish Museum, New York, NY
1999 - George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
1999 - Gayle Gates Gallery, New York, NY 
1999 - Peter Findlay Gallery, New York, NY
1999 - African American Museum, Hempstead, NY
1999 - Grand Army Plaza Arch Gallery, New York, NY
1999 - Skylight Gallery, Brooklyn, NY 
1999 - Anacostia Museum, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.
1998 - Schomburg Center for Black Culture, New York, NY 
1998 - Skylight Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
1998 - Corridor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY 
1997 - Peter Findlay Gallery, New York, NY
1997 - Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, NY
1997 - Longwood Arts Gallery, Bronx Council on the Arts, Bronx, NY
1996 - Steinberg Museum of Art, Long Island University, Brookville, NY
1996 - Rush Arts Gallery, Rush Arts Foundation, New York, NY 
1994 - Gallery Annex, New York, NY
1994 - St. John the Divine Cathedral, New York, NY
1994 - The Bronx Council on the Arts, Bronx, NY
1994 - Gallery Annex, New York, NY
1993 - Broome Street Gallery, New York, NY
1993 - Harlem Street Gallery, New York, NY
1992 - Uhdo Gallery, New York, NY 
1992 - Broome Street Gallery, New York, NY

 

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