In one paragraph, explain why Harlem, New York was the center of the African American art world during the 1920 – 1940's? Harlem Renaissance

In one paragraph, explain why Harlem, New York was the center of the African American art world during the 1920 – 1940’s?

Harlem Renaissance
Between 1916 and 1940, the Harlem Renaissance fostered a celebration of black culture by both blacks and whites. Although the movement began in New York, it sparked an

international trend, which fermented the reversal of prejudice experienced by black artists in America, instilled a sense of racial pride among artists, musicians, and

writers, and planted seeds for the Civil Rights Movement. Black American artists were sanctioned to look to their unique racial experience as the source of artistic

inspiration. Many of the Harlem Renaissance artists exhibited with the Harmon Foundation whose personnel organized the first Black American exhibitions in 1928. One of

the most prominent artists of the Harlem Renaissance was Aaron Douglas (1898-1979), painter in geometric design. Influenced by jazz music and folk traditions, Douglas

created many illustrations of black subjects, cultivated wealthy patrons to support the movement, and worked as an activist. In 1931, Augusta Christine Savage (1892-

1962), the creator of busts of prominent African Americans, opened the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts where she taught sculpture. Savage worked to assure that black

artists were equally represented in the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration, and in 1937, Savage became the first director of the Harlem

Community Art Centeró an endeavor that caused her to neglect her sculpture, but one that was a great import because she insisted only blacks should be employed at the

center. One of Savageís students was narrative painter Jacob Armstead Lawrence (1917-2000), perhaps the most highly regarded of the Black American artists of the mid

to late 20th century and one of the primary subjects of writings by David Clyde Driskell (b. 1931), artist, historian, curator, and protégé of James A. Porter (1905-

1970), the father of African American art history. Lawrence was fortunate to grow up in New York where he benefited from the positive elements injected into Harlem

culture by artists such as Charles Henry Alston (1907-1977), William Henry Johnson (1901-1970), Aaron Douglas and Augusta Christine Savage.
The Great Depression forced many artists to return “home” from Europe and brought them together in a critical mass previously unknown. New York City became in the

1930s a center of art education with new galleries, schools, and museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, which had been founded in 1929. Most important for

aspiring black artists were the School of Arts and Crafts, founded by Savage, and the Harlem Community Art Center, of which Savage served as the first director after

its creation in 1937 with Works Progress Administration (WPA) aid. In the middle and late 1930s, federal arts projects under the New Deal provided an unprecedented

level of encouragement to the development of black artists and helped start the careers of a new generation of artists that included Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence,

and Norman Lewis.

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