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The Harlem Renaissance

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Presentation on theme: "The Harlem Renaissance"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Harlem Renaissance

2 Map of Harlem – 1920’s

3 In the early 1920s, African American artists, writers, musicians, and performers were part of a great cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. The huge migration to the North after World War I brought African Americans of all ages and walks of life to the thriving New York City neighborhood called Harlem. Doctors, singers, students, musicians, shopkeepers, painters, and writers, congregated, forming a vibrant mecca of cultural affirmation and inspiration.

4 Art from the Harlem Renaissance
Jeunesse by Palmer Hayden Street Life, Harlem, by William H. Johnson

5 Black painters and sculptors joined their fellow poets,
Langston Hughes wrote, “Harlem was in vogue.” Black painters and sculptors joined their fellow poets, novelists, actors, and musicians in a creative outpouring that established Harlem as the international capital of Black culture. Langston Hughes

6 Zora Neale Hurston was remarkable in that she was
the most widely published black woman of her day. She authored more than fifty articles and short stories as well as four novels, two books on folklore, an autobiography, and some plays. At the height of her success she was known as the “Queen of the Harlem Renaissance.” Zora Neale Hurston American writer

7 In 1925, at the height of the jazz era in Paris, the sensational cast of musicians and dancers from Harlem, assembled as La Revue Negre, exploded on the stage of the Theatre des Champs Elysees. Its talented young star, Josephine Baker ( ), captivated audiences with a wild new dance called the Charleston.

8 “Louis Armstrong’s station in the history of jazz is unimpeachable
“Louis Armstrong’s station in the history of jazz is unimpeachable. If it weren’t for him, there wouldn’t be any of us.” Dizzy Gillespie, 1971

9 Duke Ellington Duke Ellington brought a level of style and sophistication to Jazz that it hadn't seen before. By the time of his passing, he was considered amongst the world’s greatest composers and musicians.

10 silver print photograph
James Van Der Zee Couple, Harlem 1933 silver print photograph

11 Harlem Renaissance era.
The visual art of the Harlem Renaissance was an attempt at developing a new African-American aesthetic in the fine arts. Believing that their life experiences were valuable sources of material for their art, these artists created an iconography of the Harlem Renaissance era. Thematic content included Africa as a source of inspiration, African-American history, folk idioms, (music and religion of the South), and social injustice.

12 Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller Sculptor 1877-1968
Meta Warrick Fuller was a sculptor who looked to the songs of black Americans and to African folk tales for inspirational themes that focused on pathos and joy in the human condition. She introduced these subjects to America long before the Harlem Renaissance.

13 The Awakening of Ethiopia
This sculpture by Meta Warrick Fuller, anticipated the spirit and style of the Harlem Renaissance by symbolizing the emergence of the New Negro. Fuller said she was thinking about the average African-American, whom she envisioned “awakening, gradually unwinding the bondage of his past and looking out on life again, expectant and unafraid.” The garments and stance of this piece counter traditional representations of African-Americans in Western art by depicting a fully erect woman dressed in garments whose style evokes the costumes worn by ancient Egyptian queens. It is also documented that according to art historian Judith Wilson, an important source of inspiration for The Awakening of Ethiopia may also have been the utopian, Pan-Africanist novel Ethiopia Unbound (1911) by the Gold Coast activist and newspaper publisher J.E. Casely Hayford. Both Casely Hayford and Fuller (who had ties to the Pan-Africanist movement) employed the metaphor of an enshrouded and awakening “Ethiopia”. Physically restrained yet emotional and visually rich, The Awakening of Ethiopia served the representational needs not only of a disillusioned but hopeful black elite in the years , but also of successive generations of “race” men and women. The Awakening of Ethiopia 1914

14 highlighting the sense
Tanner wanted to show a positive image of the African-American by highlighting the sense of dignity and in the touching moment of the elder teaching the boy how to play the banjo. Tanner also chose the banjo because of its African origin and its being the most popular musical instrument used by the slaves in early America Henry Ossawa Tanner The Banjo Lesson, 1893

15 and see blacks as anything less than a proud and majestic people.”
Aaron Douglas “I refuse to compromise and see blacks as anything less than a proud and majestic people.” Window Cleaning, 1935

16 William H. Johnson Street-life Harlem

17 William H. Johnson Chain Gang. 1939 Johnson arrived in Harlem when the Renaissance was in the making. While there he created several paintings that dealt with political and social Harlem. Chain Gang is one example.

18 Swing Low, Sweet Chariot 1939
William H. Johnson Swing Low, Sweet Chariot 1939 Johnson always showed great devotion to painting themes that celebrated Black Christianity. This painting is an example of one based on a literal interpretation of a spiritual occasion.

19 In this symbolic self-portrait, Hayden is at work in his basement studio, surrounded by the tools of his dual professions, a palette, brushes and easel, and a garbage can, broom, and feather duster. The painter’s studio is also his bedroom, and his bed, night table, alarm clock, and a framed picture of a cat are seen in the background. The artist is painting a portrait of a young mother seated and holding her well-bundled baby with its curious hypnotic stare. Nothing seems amiss in the painting; the artist wears a shirt, tie, and beret, the attractive mother is clad in a checkered dress, and a cat sleeps peacefully on the floor. When this painting was x-rayed several years ago, however, the under-painting revealed some startling discoveries. The well, dressed, beret-wearing janitor-artist was originally painted as a ludicrous, bald man with a bean-shaped head; the baby was grinning buffoon, and the the mother was depicted as an unflattering servant. Ironically, the cat in the framed picture was painted over a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. The present version, considerably more attractive and flattering, was undoubtedly altered by Hayden in response to widespread criticism of his works by his peers who felt that Hayden was caricaturing blacks for the amusement of whites. Palmer Hayden, The Janitor Who Paints, 1937

20 Palmer Hayden, The Blue Nile, 1964

21 Robert Gwathmey 1903-1988 Custodian, 1963
Gwathmey was raised in Virginia, but it was not until his return to the South after years of art schooling in New York that he began to empathize with the African-American experience. He commented, “If I had never gone back home, perhaps I would never have painted the Negro.” Robert Gwathmey Custodian, 1963

22 Jacob Lawrence was a painter who was inspired
to focus his work on the historical development and struggle of people from African descent. He used his canvas as a vehicle for making statements on Freedom, Dignity, Struggle, and Daily Life among the African-American peoples. One of the most acclaimed African-American artists for more than fifty years, Jacob Lawrence has created numerous painting series depicting black historical figures and themes. As a young man he studied art and read extensively on the subject of African American history, which he translated into visual narratives, the best known of which is The Migration Series. Jacob Lawrence

23 Jacob Lawrence Harlem Rooftops

24 Lawrence commented, “What did I see when I arrived in Harlem in 1930? I was thirteen years of age. I remember seeing the movement, the life, the people, the excitement. We were going through a great, great depression at that time, but despite that, I think, there was always hope.” Jacob Lawrence Aspiration 1988

25 Dust to Dust (The Funeral) 1938
Jacob Lawrence Dust to Dust (The Funeral) 1938

26 Jacob Lawrence Dancing Doll, 1947
Lawrence wrote that this painting, like his other genre scenes, was “mostly autobiographical in content, pertaining to and about my own personal experiences…It is a street scene of peddlers selling dolls which dance. The doll dances as it is manipulated by an invisible string.” Jacob Lawrence Dancing Doll, 1947

27 Jacob Lawrence, The Builders, 1974 Jacob Lawrence, The Builders, 1998
Lawrence commented “The Builders (theme) came from my own observations of the human condition. If you look at a work closely, you see that it incorporates things other than the builders, like a street scene, or a family.” Jacob Lawrence, The Builders, 1974 Jacob Lawrence, The Builders, 1998

28 “I’ve always been interested in history, but they never taught Negro history in the public schools…I don’t see how a history of the United States can be written honestly without including the Negro. I didn’t paint just as a historical thing, but because I believe these things tie up with the Negro today. I am not a politician. I’m an artist, just trying to do my part to bring this thing about…” John Brown, while tending his flock in Ohio, first communicated with his sons and daughters his plans of attacking slavery by force. With the support of northern abolutionists, John Brown organized a series of successful covert missions to liberate slaves from southern plantations. In the mid-1850’s Brown led antislavery troops in an effort to make Kansas a free state. Brown was later convicted of treason and hanged in 1859. Lawrence commented “The inspiration to paint the…John Brown series was motivated by historical events as told to us by the adults of our community…the black community. The relating of these events, for many of us, was not only very informative but also most exciting to us, the men and women of these stories were strong, daring, and heroic,; and therefore we could and did relate to these by means of poetry, song, and paint.” Legend of John Brown, 1977

29 Men Exist For The Sake of One; Teach Them Then or Bear With Them Jacob Lawrence

30 Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012) Elizabeth Catlett was
an African American printmaker and sculptor. Born in 1915 she created prints and Sculptures until she died in 2012 at the Age of 97. "I feel it quite natural to paint or sculpt or draw what I know the most about and I know the most about Black women, about mothers and children, about working people and that's the kind of art I do."


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