A groundbreaking volume resituating the Harlem Renaissance as integral to the development of twentieth-century modernism
Beginning in the 1920s, Upper Manhattan became the center of an explosion of art, writing, and ideas that has since become legendary. But what we now know as the Harlem Renaissance, the first movement of international modern art led by African Americans, extended far beyond New York City. This volume reexamines the Harlem Renaissance as part of a global flowering of Black creativity, with roots in the New Negro theories and aesthetics of Alain Locke, its founding philosopher, as well as the writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston. Featuring artists such as Aaron Douglas, Charles Henry Alston, Augusta Savage, and William H. Johnson, who synthesized the expressive figuration of the European avant-garde with the aesthetics of African sculpture and folk art to render all aspects of African American city life, this publication also includes works by lesser-known contributors, including Laura Wheeler Waring and Samuel Joseph Brown, Jr., who took a more classical approach to depicting Black subjects with dignity, interiority, and gravitas. The works of New Negro artists active abroad are also examined in juxtaposition with those of their European and international African diasporan peers, from Germaine Casse and Ronald Moody to Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch, and Pablo Picasso. This reframing of a celebrated cultural phenomenon shows how the flow of ideas through Black artistic communities on both sides of the Atlantic contributed to international conversations around art, race, and identity while helping to define our notion of modernism.
Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Distributed by Yale University Press
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (February 25–July 28, 2024)
Denise Murrell is Merryl H. and James S. Tisch Curator at Large at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
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