George Nelson Preston

George Nelson Preston


AKA Nana Anakwa

George Nelson Preston, PhD, Art History, Columbia University, 1973. Is recipient of The Art of Alumni of CCNY 2014 Career Achievement Award. He is a Former Foreign Area Fellowship recipient and in 2016 he was elected to the Pierre Verger chair of the Academia Brasileira de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro.


Born in NYC into an art and music family. Mildred Lucille Jones Preston, Charlestown, SC 1913 - NYC 2007 John Lee Preston, Roanoke, VA. 1898 - 1958. 


Group Show. ACA Gallery 57th St. Honorable mention. Competition for a Personal Exhibition. 

1956 - 1962 

Majors in fine arts and English literature at the City College of New York. B.A. February 1962. 


Two-person exhibition with John Purpura at the Phoenix Gallery at 40 Third Ave. 


Yaddo Fellowship. 


Solo exhibition, Phoenix Gallery.

1960 May 17 - June 4 

Solo exhibition. Duo Gallery 1204 Lexington Ave. NYC 

1960 - 1961 

Visits Cuba December 2 - January 14 on a freelance assignment for Swank Magazine. Meets Celia Cruz, Benny Moret Vice President Oswaldo Dórticos and interviews Pablo Neruda, Paints and draws views of the Cuban landscape and people. 


Receives Title IV Full Bright for the study of non western art, culture and language at Columbia University in the city of New York. 


Earns the M.A. Diploma in Art History, Columbia University in the city of New York. Thesis: The Akan of Ghana: The Style and Importance of Their Terracotta Funerary Art. 

Curates, designs and installs the African Hall, The Brooklyn Museum, NYC. Receives a Foreign Area Fellowship from the Joint Committee of the Social Science Research Council, American Council of Learned Societies. 

1968 - 1971 

Art Historical and archeological visits to Greece, Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Togo and Egypt. Extended fieldwork in Ghana. 


Earns the Ph. D  Faculty of Political Science, Philosophy and Pure Science, Columbia University. Doctoral dissertation, Twifo - Hemang and the Art - Leadership Complex of the Akan of Ghana. 

1973 - 1988 

Publishes books, criticism and art historical essays on classical African and Contemporary Art. 

1976 February 1 - 28 

Sneakers, Group exhibition at the Arsenal 830 5th Ave (Courtesy Organization of Independent Artists.)

1977  December 20 - January 7 

Group exhibition. Tenth Street Days: The Co-ops of the 50’s. A traveling exhibition at Amos Eno, 14 Sculptors Gallery, Noho Gallery, Pleiades Gallery and Ward - Nasse Gallery, Curated by Dore Ashton and Joellen Bard. 


Visits Brazil


George starts series of paintings and mono prints entitled Paginas Brasileiras incorporating influences from calligraphy, and indigenous tribal conventions of placement into his fragmentation of pictorial space (picture plane) and the frame. 

1996 July/August

Group exhibition. The Baseball Show. Curt Marcus Gallery, 578 Broadway NYC. 

George creates Notas Brasileiras a series of drawings based on the landscape of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. 


Group exhibition. Fortieth Anniversary, Phoenix Gallery. 

2001 January 

Preston is promoted from the junior chieftaincy of Ankobea, and ‘enstooled’ as an Aboafohene at Akuapem-Mamfe, Ghana. 


Group exhibition. Gallery 128. 128 Irvington St. NYC 


Designs the stage set for 1 Minus One by Gyavira Lasana for the Theatre for the New City, 155 1st Ave, NYC. 


Group exhibition. Black Baseball. Leroy Neiman Gallery, Harlem. 


Career Achievement Award from The Art Alumni of the Alumni Association of the City College of New York. 

2015 November 15 - January 7 

Like NOW: Adger, Melvin & George. Three person art exhibition with Adger W. Cowans and Melvin Van Peebles at Merton D. Simpson Gallery, 38 w 28th st, NYC. 

2016 November 13 - January 16 

Solo exhibition at Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba House, NYC.

Journeys of an Afro-Atlantic Envoy. George Nelson Preston: Select Works of Art 1954 - 2016 including the series of paintings, drawings and monoprints entitled Notas Brasileiras and Paginas Brasileiras. 

2017 June 30  

The Academia Brasilia de Arte (Rio de Janeiro) elects Dr. Preston to its newly created Chair 14 of its corresponding patronymic, Pierre Verger. 

2017 January 10 - April 1

Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City 1952 - 1965. Group exhibition at the Gray Gallery, NYU.

2019 February 28 - May 3

The Creative and Spiritual World of George Nelson Preston - Solo exhibition at the Carl and Helen Burger Gallery at Kean University 


Mamfe, Akuapem, enstoolment ceremony, 2001  |  Photo by Petra Richterova

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Photo by Frank Stewart