Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

San Francisco, California

(415) 750-3600


Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance


January 17-March 8, 1998, California Palace of the Legion of Honor



Blues, 1929, Arthur J. Motley, Jr. (1891-1981), oil on canvas, 35 3/4 x 42 1/4 inches, Collection of Archie Motley and Valerie Gerrard Browne, Copyright Arthur Motley.







Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture

Chicago painter Archibald J. Motley Jr.'s colorful nightclub and street scenes including Blues, Cocktails, and Saturday Night Street Scene depict the lively social life of the 1920s and 1930s, while the darker side of Harlem society is shown in The Plotters. Aaron Douglas's jazz-inspired paintings fuse modernism with African imagery, as in the poignant hut powerful Into Bondage. The promising future for black people promulgated by the "New Negro Movement" is the theme of Aspiration, a compelling and complex painting, which was recently acquired by the Fine Arts Museums. Feral Benga and Ethiopia Awakening, sculptures by Richmond Barthe and Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, respectively, also display the important linkage with African themes that appears in the work of many Harlem Renaissance artists, as do Les Fetishes and The Ascent of Ethiopia, key works by Lois Mailou Jones. Jacob Lawrence drew from black history in Haiti for the theme of his magnificent series Toussaint LOverture, which chronicles in 41 paintings the life of 18th-century Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L'Overture. Lawrence subsequently created a series of 12 silkscreens on the same subject, several of which are on view in the exhibition. The other major painters, graphic artists, and sculptors in Rhapsodies in Black include Edward Burra, Palmer Hayden, William H. Johnson, Winold Reiss, Sargent Johnson, and Augusta Savage.

This international traveling exhibition began its United Kingdom tour at the Hayward Gallery, London. Following its first American showing in San Francisco, the exhibition will be on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., from April 18 through August 3, 1998. Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance was co-curated by Richard J. Powell, Professor of Art and Art History, Duke University, North Carolina, and David A. Bailey, Co-Director of the African and Asian Artists' Archive, London. An illustrated catalogue with contributions from Martina Attille, David A. Bailey, Andrea D. Barnwell, Simon Callow, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Paul Gilroy, Richard T. Powell, and Jeffrey C. Stewart, accompanies the exhibition.

Girl in a Red Dress, 1934, Charles Alston, oil on canvas, 26 x 22 inches, Copyright The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art







Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance is organized by the Hayward Gallery, London, in collaboration with The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Institute of International Visual Arts, London. The exhibition and related programs are made possible by the Annenberg Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

The exhibition in San Francisco has been generously funded by United Airlines, Union Bank of California, an anonymous donor, AT&T, Nordstrom, LEF Foundation, and Zuk & Associates, Inc.

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Text and images courtesy of FAMSF.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 11/26/10

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