Raymond Saunders (born 1934) is an artist and a professor emeritus of painting and drawing at California College of the Arts.

His works are in the permanent collections of numerous museums around the country.

In addition to his art, Saunders is known for his 1967 pamphlet Black is a Color which argues that "African American artists need not be limited by racial representations, and argues against the concept of “black” art as a potentially degrading restriction, in favor of a more race-neutral approach to artistic creation." 1

"Some angry artists are using their art as political tools, instead of vehicles of free expression...An artist who is always harping upon resistance, discrimination, opposition, besides being a drag, eventually plays right into the hands of the politicians he claims to despise—and is held there, unwittingly (and witlessly) reviving slavery in another form. For the artist, this is aesthetic atrophy.

Certainly the American black artist is in a unique position to express certain aspects of the current American scene, both negative and positive, but if he restricts himself to these alone, he may risk becoming a mere cypher, a walking protest, a politically prescribed stereotype, negating his own mystery and allowing himself to be shuffled off into an arid overall mystique.

Racial hang-ups are extraneous to art, no artist can afford to let them obscure what runs through all artthe living root and the ever-growing aesthetic record of human spiritual and intellectual experience. Can't we get clear of these degrading limitations, and recognize the wider reality of art, where color is the means and not the end?"

Raymond Saunders, Black is a Color

Links and References

  1. Raymond Saunders at California College of the Arts