Tuesday, November 25, 2008

aaron douglas

Although I had seen reproductions of one or two of Aaron Douglas' most famous murals in books about modern American art or African-American history, I wasn't familiar with the scope and themes of his work or with the artist himself until I saw the exhibition at the Schomburg this afternoon. What an enlightening and moving show! I'm so glad I was able to check it out before it closes on Sunday.

Aaron Douglas, the most famous and prolific black artist of the 1920s and 1930s, symbolized the artistic achievements of the Harlem Renaissance just as Langston Hughes embodied its poetic genius. He is best known perhaps for his powerful allegorical murals about the black experience in America. Graceful and didactic, Douglas' canvases and drawings illustrate the struggles and achievements, disappointments and dreams of African-Americans through the generations. Using rich colors, African motifs, geometric patterns, and a very sleek Modernist style, Douglas succeeds in creating very uplifting and contemplative stories.



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