African-American art



– Most known for his colorful chronicling of the African-American experience during the 1920s and 1930s

– Considered one of the major contributors to the Harlem Renaissance, or the New Negro Movement, a time in which African American art reached new heights not just in New York but across America.

– Specialized in portraiture and saw it “as a means of affirming racial respect and race pride.

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In honor of Black History Month, here are some early works in our collection by African American artists.

Squirrel,” date unknown, by William Edmondson

Tall Case Clock,” 1801–5, movement made by Peter Hill, case possibly by George Deacon

Charles Willson Peale (1741–827),” after 1802, by Moses Williams

Storage Jar,” 1859, made by David Drake (Dave the Potter)

The Annunciation,” 1898, by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Birds in Flight,” 1927, by Aaron Douglas

Blind Singer,” c. 1939–40, by William Henry Johnson

More Art Monday is brought to you by Art 24/7.

Artist Elizabeth Catlett, who said the purpose of her art was to “present black people in their beauty and dignity for ourselves and others to understand and enjoy,” was born on this day in 1915. 

[Elizabeth Catlett. Sharecropper. 1952, published 1968-70. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2016 José Sanchez / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Spain]

Margaret Burroughs - Black Venus (1957)

“Burroughs had a vision of doing more to preserve black heritage. With her husband, Burroughs converted the ground floor of their old Chicago mansion into a small museum in which they could display a variety of artifacts. More than 500 people toured the museum during its first year. Heartened by the public’s interest, Burroughs devoted herself to raising funds for the museum. She firmly believed that this museum would enrich lives, especially those of young black people. “A museum …shows kids they can be somebody,” Burroughs stated in Black Enterprise.

By emphasizing the cultural and racial roots of black people, Burroughs hoped to teach young people that not only could they be somebody but that they came from a proud and strong black heritage. Besides serving as a repository for black art, papers, artifacts, and memorabilia, the museum also met the needs of its visitors with youth activities, essay contests, art festivals, and poetry festivals. By 1970, museum attendance was more than 30,000 annually.” [Source]




The Art by Kadir Nelson | Black Art Appreciation Series

Kadir Nelson is a critically acclaimed artist and illustrator. He has received many awards and honors for his children’s books, including the 2009 Sibert Medal for We Are the Ship, a Coretta Scott King Award for Ellington Was Not a Street, written by Ntozake Shange, and the NAACP Image Award for Just the Two of Us, written by Will Smith.  

Illustrations from the book, We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.

Via Black History Album…”The Way We Were” on Pinterest | Tumblr | Twitter  | Facebook. 


1) Gentleman with Negro Attendant by Ralph Earl, 1785-88. New Britain Museum of American Art.

2) Jaavon with Unknown Gentleman by Titus Kaphar. New Britain Museum of American Art.

“Earl’s portrait depicts a large, well-dressed white man waited on by a young black boy.  This kind of portrait – where a servant is portrayed only as a sign of the wealth of his master – was common in Colonial America. As Kaphar elaborates, ‘In the original painting, Gentleman with Negro Attendant the black child is stripped of all identity.  He has no name, grotesquely articulated features and is bereft of human dignity.  In Jaavon and the Unknown Gentleman, the black figure is replaced with a living and particular child – my young neighbor.’ In repainting Earl’s original work, Kaphar returns specificity to the figure of the black boy. The “gentleman”, however, becomes “unknown”, as Kaphar cuts holes in the canvas where the head and hands of the “gentleman” were once rendered. By changing the original title, Kaphar further shifts the underlying power structure in Earl’s portrait.”–NBMAA Blog

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Part of the AMAZING Appropriation and Inspiration project! So proud of my local museum!