Black History Month
The Art Institute of Chicago
We begin our tour at The Art Institute of Chicago where their collection of African American art provides a rich introduction to over 100 years of noted achievements in painting, sculpture, and printmaking. Ranging chronologically from the Civil War era to the Harlem Renaissance and from the civil-rights struggles following World War II to the contemporary period, these works constitute a dynamic visual legacy.
Visit there and see many of early African American artists who helped shape our art heritage...
- Elizabeth Catlett - Mexican (born United States), born 1915 Sharecropper, 1957 (printed 1970) Color linocut on cream Japanese paper
- Archibald J. Motley Jr. often depicted contemporary black social nightlife in the city. His focus was Chicago�s Bronzeville neighborhood. Also known as the Black Belt, this area became home to more than 90 percent of the city�s black population by the 1930s. Nightlife, 1943 Oil on canvas 91.4 x 121.3 cm (from Art Institute of Chicago.) 1891-1981
- Kerry James Marshall completed Many Mansions in 1994 (Acrylic on paper mounted on canvas); the first in a series of five large-scale paintings depicting public housing projects in Chicago and Los Angeles. American, born 1955
- Romare Bearden's The Return of Odysseus portrays the climax of The Odyssey, an epic poem by the ancient Greek author known as Homer. 1977 Collage on masonite. American, 1911-1988
Index Of Minority-American Artists
At University of Wisconsin - River Falls, you'll find the INDEX OF MINORITY-AMERICAN ARTISTS, assembled by Rhonda Leigh Willers. Here are the most influential black artists, sculptures and photographers. Within that library you'll find the directory of African American Artists which includes the art of Aaron Douglas.
Douglas was the Harlem Renaissance artist whose work best exemplified the 'New Negro' philosophy. He painted murals for public buildings and produced illustrations and cover designs for many black publications including The Crisis and Opportunity: Rebirth, 1927; Crucifxion, 1927; Aspects of Negro Life: The Negro in an African Setting , 1934; and Aspects of Negro Life #62: Song of the Towers, 1934, all of which are oil on canvas. Perhaps one of his best known pieces is Into Bondage painted in 1936, Oil on canvas.
Aaron founded the Art Department at Fisk University where he taught for twenty nine years.
Institute of International Arts
To discover other Black artists who shaped the American art scene visit the Institute of International Arts' wonderful art gallery: Rhapsodies In Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance. This Web site provides an introduction to the exhibition curated by David A. Bailey and Richard J. Powell and organised by the Hayward Gallery, London in collaboration with the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC., and the Institute of International Visual Arts (inIVA). The Web site combines images and text to elaborate on some of the key themes in the exhibition: The Harlem Renaissance, Representing the New Negro, Modernism and Modernity, A Blues Aesthetic, Imaginging Africa, Haiti and Images of Black Nationhood.
It's an important body of information that should not be missed. Here's the overview page
African Americans in the Visual Arts
Long Island University is home of the C.W. Post Campus and the B. David Schwartz Memorial Library where you'll find an exhaustive study called African Americans in the Visual Arts: A Historical Perspective, under the guidance of Prof. Melvin R. Sylvester, Library Periodicals Department.
At the Creative Folk web site they've dedicated a page to posters of African American artists and graphic designers -- Beyond Black History Month: The African American Studies Toolkit. Here we found a wonderful collection of visual art from such artists as
- Augusta Asberry (Carnival Beads);
- Charles Alston (Family No. 1);
- Romare Bearden (Showtime and Piano Lesson);
- Edward Mitchell Bannister (Approaching Storm and Newspaper Boy);
- Edmonia Lewis (Forever Free); and
- James Van Der Zee's Black and white photo: Couple with a Cadillac, 1932
African American Registry
Finally, our searches took us to the African American Registry and their Theatre & Arts section with lots of links to both visual artists and performing artists. It was here that we found a lead to Paul Collins, Painter, Portraitist (African American; Martin Luther King Jr and We are the World)
Study of Black History & Art
This colorful book provides context about the Harlem Renaissance and the proliferation of Black artists during the 20's and 30's -- it's filled with samples of the period's most representative works. Rounding out the art form are essays and poems by noted writers of the time. This is a good introduction to the period and is suitable for all ages.
Hardcover: 200 pages; published by Harry N Abrams, 1994
This is an excellent reference for artists' profiles which includes a wide array of artistic achievements in the past century, from blues to reggae, from the paintings of Henry Ossawa Tanner to the video installations of Keith Piper. Richard Powell's study concentrates on the works of art themselves and on how these works, created during a time of major social upheaval and transformation, use black culture as both subject and context. This book places its emphasis on black cultural themes rather than on black racial identity containing more than 190 illustrations.
Paperback: 272 pages Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 2nd edition, 2002
According to David McClelland, Temple Univ. Lib., Philadelphia
"This book belongs on the art reference shelf of every major library. A revised and updated edition of the 1978 work Art: African American, it presents short biographies and illustrations of the work of 176 artists of African descent working in the United States from the Revolution to the present. "
Author Samella Lewis has brought African American Art and Artists fully up to date in this revised and expanded edition. The book now looks at the works and lives of artists from the eighteenth century to the present, including new work in traditional media as well as in installation art, mixed media, and digital/computer art. Mary Jane Hewitt, an author, curator, and longtime friend of Samella Lewis's, has written an introduction to the new edition.
Paperback: 340 pages; from the University of California Press, 2003
In this book, artist and art historian Michael Harris investigates the role of visual representation in the construction of black identities, both real and imagined, in the United States. He focuses particularly on how African American artists have responded to--and even used--stereotypical images in their own works.
Harris shows how, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, racial stereotypes became the dominant mode through which African Americans were represented. These characterizations of blacks formed a substantial part of the foundation of white identity and social power. They also, Harris argues, seeped into African Americans' self-images and undermined their self-esteem.
Hardcover: 296 pages; Publisher: University of North Carolina Press, 2003
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