Aaron Douglas' "Crucifixion"

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Aaron Douglas’ Crucifixion

Throughout much of Modernism many artists were influenced and informed by the work of exotic regions throughout the world, more specifically Africa. African Art would influence much of the Modern Movements from the latter part of the Nineteenth and the beginning of the Twentieth Centuries. Much is said of the artists within the Harlem Renaissance, and how it directly reflects the influence of Africana upon their art. Often times, this work is neglected to be considered Modern if not in specialized selections of course throughout many of today's higher institutions of learning. However, thus being said, Aaron Douglas, often considered the pioneer of African American Modern Art, would bring this notion to the forefront of Modern Society. With Douglas’ “The Crucifixion,” illustrated in “God’s Trombones” in 1927, he would shatter all notions of work within the Harlem Renaissance as not being Modern, but more viably Modern than most work produced at this time. He would give tremendous validity to African American Art as Modern in any context by not only incorporating modernist concepts, but truly making social criticism about the plight of the African Americans and the struggles of becoming important. In Douglas’ “The Crucifixion,” he draws from Western academia and his African roots, not only to place his work among Modern fine art, but would make the Black voice a viable and acceptable as any other movement within Modern Art. It is important to point out the formal qualities of “The Crucifixion.” The piece is made of oil on canvas. However, with the delicate treatment and translucency of the paint it is not hard to imagining it watercolor or gouache. The color palette is limited and specific. The use of a very monochromatic purple tonal range sets the mood for the piece as a whole. Purple denotes a heavenly or royal handling of the subject matter. The use of purple within the Western canon, oftentimes symbolized the holy. With the...
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