henry o. tanner

Happy Birthday to Henry O. Tanner, born June 21, 1859. Tanner’s ‘Annunciation’ (1898) @PhilaMuseum is one of the finest representations of 'divine intervention’ in the history of Western Art. The exhibition which originated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is currently at The Cincinnati Museum until September 9th. http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20120525/ENT07/305250017/Exhibit-showcases-Henry-O-Tanner

Robert L. Johnson Donates Art Collection to NMAAHC

 Elizabeth Catlett, Head of a Negro Woman, 1946. © ElizabethCatlett/Licensed by Visual Artists & Galleries Association, Inc. (VAGA),New York, NY

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture recently received an impressive donation from Robert L. Johnson, a founding member of the museum’s council. Johnson, founder of The RLJ Companies and Black Entertainment Television (BET), has donated select artworks from his privately owned Barnett-Aden Collection

The donated works from the collection include a terracotta sculpture “Head of a Negro Woman” (1946) by Elizabeth Catlett and paintings from Romare Bearden, “A Walk in Paradise Gardens” (1955), Archibald John Motley Jr., “The Argument” (1940), Henry O. Tanner, “Flight into Egypt” (1916) and Frederick C. Flemister, “Self-Portrait” (1941).

Frederick C. Flemister, Self-Portrait, 1941. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Robert L. Johnson.

The Barnett-Aden Collection was established in 1943 by James Herring, founder of the Howard University department of art, and Alonzo Aden, curator of Howard University’s Gallery of Art. The collection of African American art features portraiture, urban genre themes and depictions of the African American experience. 

Romare Bearden, A Walk in Paradise Gardens, 1955. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Robert L. Johnson, © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Since the 1980s, Johnson has assembled a private collection of more than 250 pieces of artwork by 19th- and20th-century artists. The Barnett-Aden Collection, which documents the struggles, achievements and celebrations of black people in America, was acquired by Johnson in 1998 from the National Museum of African American Art based in Florida, and selections from the collection were displayed in Washington, D.C., in early 2009.

“We are delighted to receive such a significant donation from Robert L. Johnson to house as part the museum’s permanent collection,” said Lonnie G. Bunch, founding director of NMAAHC. 

Henry Ossawa Tanner, Flight into Egypt, ca. 1916. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Robert L. Johnson.

Post complied by Lanae S., Social Media Specialist, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

As a side note (or counterpoint) to the Henry O. Tanner ‘Annunciation’, I’ve always been fascinated by it’s relationship to this picture, Edvard Munch’s 1895 'Puberty’. Painted in Berlin, the image was widely distributed through lithographs and etchings. Munch moved to Paris the year after painting 'Puberty’. The image, and Munch’s presence, would most certainly have been known to Tanner who was living in Paris in 1896. 

THE THANKFUL POOR by Henry O. Tanner remains my favorite work of art. I first saw it as a freshman at Howard University. For me, it is a stunning piece where the prinicpal characters are set in lighting that almost makes them seem like they are being watched from outside the window by something divine. It is also a visual life lesson of why it is important to be grateful for what you do have as opposed to worrying about what you don’t. It reminds me that the only validation I need is that which I recieve from my creator. No, I am not the most lettered or learned person. No, I do not have a bunch of money to throw around. Having said that, I am an educated person. I am empathetic. I do have friends, family, a home, a living, good relations, Knick games to scream about. To me, those things are part of God’s gift of validation and I am most thankful for them.