20th Century African American Art Exhibition Opens at Hudson River Museum in October


Sargent Johnson, Mask, ca. 1930 – 1935, copper on wooden base. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of International Business Machines Corporation.

Felrath Hines, Red Band on Green Background, 1986, oil on linen canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of Dorothy C. Fisher, wife of the artist. © 1986, Dorothy C. Fisher

Hudson River Museum will present African-American art in the 20th century, an exhibition of exemplary paintings and sculptures by thirty-four African-American artists who rose to prominence during the period framed by the Harlem Renaissance from the 1920s and the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. from the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the exhibit features masterpieces by iconic artists such as Romare Bearden, Beauford Delaney, Jacob Laurent, and Lois Mailou Jones, ranging from modern abstraction to tinted color through the postmodern assemblage of found objects. The exhibition will be visible from October 15, 2021 to January 16, 2022; this will be the only New York venue for the exhibition.

The themes of the works are varied. Benny Andrews, Ellis Wilson, and William H. Johnson talk about the dignity and resilience of those who work the land. Jacob Laurent and Thornton dial, Sr. recognize the struggle for economic and civil rights. Sargent Johnson, Lois Mailou Jones, and Melvin edwards approach the heritage of Africa, and images by Romare Bearden celebrate jazz musicians. Sam gilliam and Gangreth Hines conduct innovative experiments with color and shape.

“It is an absolute honor to have these exceptional paintings and sculptures at the Hudson River Museum,” said the Director and CEO. Macha Turchinsky. “We are delighted to present to our audience one of the most important national collections of African American art. This is a crucial opportunity for the public to discover powerful works of these American luminaries in the only place of the exhibition in New York.

Laura vookles, chairman of the HRM conservation department, added, “I can’t wait to see the exhibition galleries filled with these amazing works from such a large group of exceptional and influential artists. It has been a privilege to work with my colleagues to plan the presentation here, and I think people will find the visit to the exhibition just as meaningful. “

These artists worked at important social and political moments in American life. The Harlem Renaissance, World War II, the civil rights movement and the forces of freedom around the world shaped their lives and world views. Family and personal history has become sub-texts for some. Others interpreted the syncopations of jazz in visual form, still others translated the observation into powerful emotional statements. In styles that range from pictorial expressionism to abstractions that glow with color, they explore myth and memory and recognize Africa’s heritage.

Norman Lewis, Evening Rendezvous, 1962, oil on linen. Smithsonian American Art Museum, museum purchase.

Palmer Hayden, The Janitor Who Paints, ca. 1930, oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the Harmon Foundation.

The words of an academic, a writer and a political activist WEB Du Bois, professor of philosophy at Howard University Alain locke, author Zora Neale Hurston, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and their contemporaries provided insight and inspiration. In response, artists assert community and individuality. For them, art is a vehicle for understanding the complex, conflicting and enduring facets of the American experience. As a featured artist Jacob Laurent said in 1951: “My photos express my life and my experience… the things I have experienced extend to my national, racial and social group. I paint the American scene.

The complete list of artists in the exhibition: Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden, Frederick Brown, Hilda Wilkinson Brown, Claude Clark, Eldzier Cortor, Allan Rohan Crite, Emilio Cruz, Beauford Delaney, Joseph Delaney, Thornton Dial, Sr., Melvin Edwards , Herbert Gentry, Sam Gilliam, Palmer Hayden, Felrath Hines, Richard Hunt, Malvin Gray Johnson, Sargent Johnson, William H. Johnson, Loïs Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Hughie Lee-Smith, Norman Lewis, Whitfield Lovell, Keith Morrison, Delilah Pierce, Charles Searles, Renée Stout, Bob Thompson, Ellis Wilson, Hale Woodruff, Kenneth Victor Young and Purvis Young.

Delilah Pierce, DC Waterfront, Maine Avenue, 1957, oil on cardboard. Smithsonian American Art Museum, museum purchase made possible by donation funds

Exhibition catalog
The associated catalog, African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Era and Beyond, celebrates modern and contemporary works of art in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection of African-American artists. The book, co-edited with Skira Rizzoli in New York, is written by Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett professor of art and art history at Duke University; and Virginia Mecklenburg, chief curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; with contributions from Maricia Battle, Curator of the Prints and Drawings Division at the Library of Congress. It will be available in the museum shop ($ 39.95 for a soft cover).


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