Harlem Renaissance is a creative period in which intellectual, social, and artistic explosion centered in Harlem, Manhattan. (the 1910s to the mid-1930s). The works of Black artists represented pride in black identity. Also, this movement raised awareness of discrimination against Black people. Harlem Renaissance is also known as the New Negro Movement.
Among other movements, the Harlem Renaissance has close relationships with the civil rights movement. Black people created a place for self-expression in Harlem. Moreover, they performed at a broader scale of art from music to visual arts and literature. For this article, we gathered a collection of different paintings of the Harlem Renaissance.
Gamin by Augusta Savage
Augusta Savage has made a name for herself in Harlem Renaissance as a sculptor, and she was also one of the Harlem Community Center directors. Gamin is a piece that she made in 1929, and from painted plaster. With Gamin, she gained a scholarship to travel to Europe. Gamin means “street urchin” in French, and the sculpture has a child’s expression wiser than his age, concretizing the hardship he experienced in life. From his casket and his shirt, we can easily understand that he is a child-laborer.
Les Fétiches by Lois Mailou Jones
Lois Mailou Jones painted Les Fétiches in 1938, and it is now in Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C. In this piece, we can see five different ethnic masks belonging to other African tribes. She spent most of her summers in France, and when her teachers asked about the African themes in her paintings, she answered: if masters like Matisse and Picasso could use them, she said, “don’t you think I should?” This painting symbolizes her reclaim of African heritage in art.
The Judgement Day by Aaron Douglas
Aaron Douglas painted this piece in 1939, and it was initially was a book illustration before re-created as a painting. It is a Harlem Renaissance piece of oil on fiberboard. At the center of the artwork, we see a Black Gabriel playing his trumpet. By placing this figure at the center, he interprets the biblical story with the Black artistic images such as preachers at the back and trumpet. Its cubic aspects also create a jazzy effect.
The Migration of the Negro by Jacob Lawrence
“The Migration of the Negro” also called The Migration Series, is a group of paintings by Jacob Lawrence telling the story of Black people’s migration to the northern United States from the South in the 1910s. With the series, Lawrence has achieved master storytelling in painting. His paintings are bringing the historical events that affected him to life. He explores the use of Social Realism in Modern Art and the Harlem Renaissance. He was one of the famous names in the 1930s. Lawrence also described his art, referring to Dynamic Cubism. He painted the first panel in 1941, and he was consistent with the Harlem Renaissance themes.