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Harlem Renaissance Art
Transcript of Harlem Renaissance Art
Visual Art During the Harlem Renaissance
"The Golden Age of African American Art"
being "an effort to remove the masks of racial stereotypes," and replace it with the new face of African Americans.
founders believed that art had a higher influence than politics in terms of race relations
"black art is a key to gaining a reciprocity of respect" (Buck 2).
Alain Locke ("Father of the Harlem Renaissance") identified the function of art:
"Art must discover and reveal the beauty which prejudice and caricature have overlaid. And all vital art discovers beauty and opens our eyes to that which we previously could not see."
"After Beauty, let Truth come into the Renaissance picture."
Langston Hughes agrees, where "we young Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are please we are glad. If they are not, it does not matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too" (Buck 2).
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, art is "something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings."
including poetry, prose, drama, visual art, and music
An Outpouring of Significant Visual Art by African Americans
Art reviewed broken into:
Muralist and Illustrator
James Van Der Zee
Other artists include: Richmond Barthe, May Howard Jackson, Richard S. Roberts, Archibald Motley, Palmer C. Hayden, William E. Braxton, and many more
Born in Topeka, Kansas in 1899
to Aaron & Elizabeth Douglas
Mother worked for the family who founded the Malvane Museum of art
Attended University of Nebraska
studied fine arts
only African American in his class
Later, obtained a BFA degree from the University of Kansas
Began his Career as a teacher, but headed for New York to create.
met and became inspired by Winold Reiss
"interested in using art to advance human dignity" (Jegede 1)
Illustrator of choice for The New Negro: An Interpretation
Douglas's eventual mentor
As an Artist
Muralist and Illustrator
celebrated the black ideal
dignity of African American Community
Drew Images of African Americans
charcoal and colored chalk
receiving invitations to illustrate the works of many African American authors.
e.g. Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, etc.
received a scholarship to the Barnes Foundation in Marion, PA
Sold his professional drawings
received and executed mural commissions
Most Famous: Aspects of Negro Life (1934)
As a result of Discrimination, Harlem Artists Guild was founded
Elected President: Aaron Douglas
Douglas was able to make bonds between many African American artists, critics, writers, poets, and performers
Became a full-time professor of Art at Fisk University
Chair of the Art Department there
Influenced major artists to follow, having produced the some of the first creations of the Harlem Renaissance
Mural: Aspects of Negro Life
(In Four Panels)
"The first Panel, The Negro in an African Setting, explores the cadence of life in an African context- a context in which art, music, dance, performance, and rituals predominate" (Jegede 2).
"From Slavery through the Reconstruction, the second panel, historicizes the anxieties and tribulations of African Americans who had to endure the inhumane ordeals of slavery, the euphoric relief by the Emancipation Proclamation (1863), and the egregious sadism of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)" (Jedege 2).
In Idyll of the Deep South, Douglass depicts African Americans engaged in quotidian activities: tilling the soil amid singing and dancing, and sharing a collective grief as they take care of the body of a lynched member" (Jedege 2).
"The Fourth Panel, Song of the Towers, extols the indomitability of the human spirit: narratives of migration from the South to the North during World War I is juxtaposed with the devastating effects of the Great Depression in the early 1930's" (Jedege 3).
Born in Green Cove Springs, Florida
Seventh of 14 children
Earned 25 for a clay piece at a county fair, where public support urged her to move northward
Arrived in New York in 1921 with $4.60 in her possession.
graduated from Cooper Union in three years
Supported nine family members in her three-room apartment in Harlem
As an Artist
received a scholarship from the French government for summer study
they withdrew offer on account of her racial identity
Italian-American Society gave her a scholarship to study in Rome
inability to afford to travel
Continued to privately study with various Italian American sculptors
Harmon Foundation exhibited her works
Head of a Negro
Eventually went to Paris with Julius Rosenwald Fund, creating:
black female nudes
animal chase scene
exhibited at many French and American venues
American Art-Anderson Galleries, Argent Galleries, Architectural League
Opened the Savage School of Arts and Crafts in 1932
First African American elected to the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors
Became the first director of the Harlem Community Art Center
Savage was the one of just four women to receive commission, of the 35 artists.
<- Lift Every Voice and Sing
16-foot plaster harp
strings are the choir robes on singing black youths
Inspired by the Negro National Anthem
James Van Der Zee
born in Lenox Massachusetts in 1886
To John and Suasn Van Der Zee
Parents: Butler and Maid
Original goal was to be a musician
Magazine promotion introduced him to his first toy camera
sparked his interest
converted his closet into a darkroom to develop fiilms
Took on various random jobs in New York
waiter, office worker, elevator operator, etc.
As a Photographer
became the official photographer for the Universal Negro Improvement Association
Distinctive Features of his work:
capture the aura of his subjects
empathy and affinity he felt
penchant for detail
color touch-ups or double-printing
Portraits of ordinary African Americans and Celebrities
e.g. Garvey, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Duke Ellington
"potent counter-hegemony instrument" (Jedege 1).
opposed the images of blacks as "bumbling baffoons"
Posed his subjects, always wearing classy attire with expensive vehicles
"Emergent African American class was canvassed" (Jedege 1).
"Harlem on My Mind Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum
Establishment James Van Der Zee Institute
James Van Der Zee Photography
Harlem Renaissance Art as a Whole:
"...all vital are discovers beauty and opens our eyes to that which we previously could not see."