African American Paintings during the Harlem Renaissance

Topics: African American, W. E. B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes Pages: 6 (1395 words) Published: September 11, 2010
African American Paintings during Harlem Renaissance
Niccole Marshall
June 27, 2010
Melissa Ernstes

Figure: 1
No Date
We four in Paris
Palmer Hayden
Watercolor on paper
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

The painting, We four in Paris is a perfect example of using cubism as a school of art. Palmer Hayden used bold shapes such as squares, and circles, when drawing the characters faces, and bodies. Like many cubism painters, he used browns, blacks, reds, and dark oranges. The painting is of men playing a card game around a table in Paris. The painting mught suggest that the men were playing a illegal game, because they are looking over their shoulders. Unfortunatly, the date is unknown, but the men look as if they were the newly defined African American.

Figure: 2
The Mending Sock
Archibald J. Motle
Oil on canvas
Auckland Art Museum, U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Mending Sock is a classic example of a true work of art. The colors are so bold, and keep your eyes focused on particular pieces. The painting is of an elderly woman mending a sock while sitting in her chair. The painting suggests that the elderly woman is tired because of the hard wrinkles and sadness in her face. She does not have the leisure of someone else fixing her clothing, which was a clear example of the way African Americans lived at this time. In the painting there is a photo of a Caucasian woman, which may also suggest that she is submissive to the woman in the photo. This painting seems to be postimpressionism because it looks similar to still life, as shown by the fruit basket on the table. This painting symbolizes a struggle from the ancestors of current African Americans.

Figure: 3
Aaron Douglas
Oil on Canvas
Institution Unknown

The painting Rebirth has a lot of meaning, and emotion that can be defined personally for African Americans. African Americans ancestors were taken from their homeland in Africa. As stated in history, they were brought to America to be enslaved, and stripped of their individuality. It was as if they were no longer human, and lost themselves. The Harlem Renassaiance was the chance for African Americans to be reborn, and become something within themselves. The painting illustrates all this through the people getting off their knees and standing up. The painting also has African statues, and symbols to show their birth land. The artist uses expressionism painting, because they are trying to show what they, and others are feeling.

Figure: 4
Archibald J. Motley
Oil on canvas
Institution Unknown
The painting Blues expresses greatly of what the Harlem Renassaince was. The Harlem Renassaince was known for its appreciation and expression of art. It was filled with music, poetry, paintings, dancing, and Jazz was the main music played by African Americans. Jazz filled nightclubs, bars, homes and streets. This painting symbolizes a rememorable time for African Americans. The painting has people enjoying jazz music played, while dancing to the tune. The artist used rich, bold colors, and dark colors. Such colors used in this painting, are usually done with impressionism.

Figure: 5
Malvin Gray Johnson
Smithsonian American art Museum, Washington, DC
The painting, Brothers is a painting of two brothers dressed in slacks who are sitting outside next to each other. The colors in the painting are dark, like a cloudy day. The brothers have no shoes on, and are very close. It is visible that one of the brothers is the younger one. The younger one is shorter, and is leaning on the older one. In previous history African Americans were enslaved, and families were split apart. The Harlem Renassaince was a new era for African American families. They were now able to be together, and live normal like others. The painting is postimpressionism, because it is like a portrait, or still life.

Figure: 6
Song of the Tower...
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