James Denmark was born in Winter Haven, Florida on March 23, 1936 into a family of Artists. He was exposed to color and form at an early age by his grandmother, a wire sculptor and quilt artist, by his grandfather, a bricklayer noted for his unique custom design molds and his mother who was gifted with an intuitive feeling for design and a fastidiousness for detail which she expressed in all aspects of her daily life. This rich beginning is the root of James Denmark's creative expression.
He attended Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, Florida on a sports scholarship. While pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at FAMU, Denmark came under the tutelage of the artist and acclaimed African-American art historian, Dr. Samella Lewis, who exposed him to the great traditions and accomplishments of the African-American art movement. After graduating from FAMU, Denmark moved to Brooklyn, New York and began a career as an art teacher in the public school system.
From 1973 to 1976, Denmark earned his Master of Fine Arts Degree at the prestigious Pratt Institute of Fine Arts in New York. While at Pratt, Denmark met and was nurtured by an immensely talented community of artists. During this period he was heavily influenced by the abstract expressionists and admired such mainstream artists as Jackson Pollock, Clifford Still, William deKooning. The African-American masters Norman Lewis, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence and Ernest Crichlow instilled in him an appreciation of African/American artistic heritage. "So much richness reinforced my natural talents," Denmark says of his growth at Pratt. He likens it to picking up a baton and carrying it to the next leg-his collages. Denmark's work underwent a stylistic transition at this time. He began experimenting with collage. Prior to this period, he worked primarily in watercolors and charcoal.
Denmark has a natural affinity for the difficult and largely improvisational medium of collage and quickly developed his own unique and easily identifiable style. With brightly handcolored papers, fabric and objects, Denmark creates compositions that go beyond the superficial and transitory and focuses, instead, on what is eternal and universal.
Denmark's collages, watercolors, woodcuts and reproductions are consistently and eagerly sought by galleries and collectors worldwide. He has had over 60 one-man exhibitions and has participated in a number of group shows. His level of acclaim is reflected in the number of prestigious collections in which his works are represented, most notable that of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Denmark's works are a part of well recognized private and corporate collections in this country, as well as in Mexico, South Africa, Europe, Japan and Africa.
Denmark spent a great portion of his professional career in Brooklyn, New York. He and his wife, Ethel, now reside in the town of Yemassee in the Low Country of South Carolina where he continues to work while she manages The Denmark Gallery based in their home.
Recent Career Highlights