Born in Oakland, CA in 1925, Robert Colescott was the first African American artist to represent the United States in a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 1997 at age 71. His mother, a pianist, and his father, a jazz musician and railroad porter, were friends with Sergeant Johnson. Johnson and Diego Rivera became the first major influences in the artist's life. Colescott, himself a musician, played drums and performed with local groups but after serving in the army in France during World War II. After the war, he returned to the San Francisco Bay Area where he received a BA and MA in art at UC Berkeley. He began to mature as an artist in 1949 when he lived in Paris for the year and studied with French cubist Fernand Léger. Colescott returned to Berkeley for a master's and spent the next decade teaching in the Northwest. In 1964, a teaching residency took him to Cairo, where Egyptian art reiterated for him Léger's ideas about narrative, but from outside the Western canon. After another stint in Paris, he returned in 1967 to the Bay Area in California and taught at the San Francisco Art Institute during the 1970s. From 1983 until 1995, Colescott was a professor of art at the University of Arizona, where in 1990 he was honored with the title of Regents' Professor. Robert Colescott's work is in several major institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.