In Palmer Hayden’s painting, “Fetiche et Fleurs,” (1926), he expresses the culture and traditions of the African and African-American culture. Hayden’s painting connects with the African society by incorporating the African imagery of a “still-life.” He describes a dining room in a home, but not any ordinary dining room; he incorporates the African details into the painting to distinguish it from other European/ American looks. He wanted to describe an ordinary daily routine of African-Americans. Although many people criticized his paintings including this one, as satirical stereotypes, I believe he wanted to achieve African culture and tradition into a more modern, stylistic expression.
The “Fetiche et Fleurs,” painting was introduced by Palmer Hayden on 1926 but was recognized until 1931 when it won the gold medal for the Harmon Foundation. This painting has been loved by many people but also criticized by others. People have criticized him as being part of minstrelsy. Minstrelsy used to be shows with African actors stereotyping, making fun of their own race, and being shown as weaker and less than the whites. But others like me have seen that what he paints and describes are not any stereotypical meanings but rather expressing the African-American society and culture.
Unfortunately, this was not the only painting that was criticized. Other paintings like “The Janitor who Paints,” and the “Watermelon Race,” were as well criticized. Biography of Palmer Hayden
Palmer C. Hayden was born on January 15, 1890, in Widewater, Virginia, and died on February 18, 1973, at the age of eighty-three (Maaala, 1). He was born to Nancy and John Hedgeman. His original name was Peyton Cole Hedgeman, but was called Palmer Hayden by his sergeant commander during World War I. His interest and passion for art began when he was only a young child, but really got into it when he entered the World War I. There he registered for art and drawing courses and started having a deep interest in it. After he was discharged from the military, he moved to New York and worked part-time while studying art at the Cooper Union School of Art, and at the Boothbay Art Colony in Maine (Lynda Roscoe, 4). After leaving the army Hayden studied charcoal drawing at Columbia University while working nights at the post office (Perry, 7). Post office work took up too much of his time so he decided to quit and started working part time as a janitor at an apartment building in New York City. As it turned out, the first tenant he assisted was Victor Perard, an art instructor at Cooper Union, back then called Cooper Institute. He hired Hayden to clean his studio and encouraged him to develop his art skills as well as his paintings (Perry,7). His Boothbay period paintings were exhibited in New York in 1926 at the Civic Club and was awarded a working fellowship to Boothbay which captivated many other painters. He received academic training in New York, Maine, and Paris. As a young man, while studying at Boothbay in 1925, he devoted most of his time painting boats and marine objects. In 1926, he was awarded the first prize and the gold medal at the first Harmon Foundation exhibition of African-American artists (PBS, 1). His two winning award paintings were “Schooners,” in 1926, and “Fetiche et Fleurs,” in 1931 (PBS, 1). Since then he was granted to study in Paris by the Patrons. When he arrived to Paris, he studied in Brittany and at the Ecole des BeauxArts (Regenia Perry, 2).
While in Paris, he exhibited a one man show at the Galerie Bernheim in November 1928 (Theresa Leininger-Miller, 23). In 1920 he exhibited in group shows at the Salon des Tuilerizs and in 1931 the American Legion Exhibition (Leininger-Miller, 24). Hayden was in Paris during the final years of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, but he had lived in New York during the processing years of that period (Michel Fabre, 35). After he...