Works in the Collection
Palmer Hayden (born Peyton Cole Hedgeman) was born 1890 in Wide Water, Virginia. He began his art career after a stint in the Army, working various jobs in New York City while pursuing his art. Primarily a self-trained artist, Hayden took occasional courses at Columbia University and studied with Victor Perard, a professor at Cooper Union School of Art whom he met while working as a janitor in Greenwich Village. In 1925, He began studies at the Boothbay Art Colony in Maine, where he was able to continue his lifelong fascination with seascapes. In 1926 he was awarded a gold medal for Distinguished Achievement Among Negroes by the Harmon Foundation. With the prize money and support of a wealthy patron, Hayden traveled to France to continue his work, even landing a solo exhibition at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, in Paris.
Upon his return to the U.S., Hayden worked for the WPA and U.S. Treasury Art Project, focusing his art on the African American experience in both the rural south and New York City. His depictions of everyday African American life and folkloric subjects are both praised and debated. Hayden’s work can be found in the collections of the National Museum of American Art, the California African American Museum, the Whitney Museum, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. The artist passed in 1973.