The Metropolitan Museum of New York will pay tribute to the black painting of the United States

It is, according to the museum, a "pioneering and fundamental period in the art of the 20th century."
The Harlem Renaissance MET

Portraits, urban scenes, photographs or literature of the artistic movement that emerged from the black diaspora of the rural and segregated South of the United States in the first half of the 20th century will be exhibited in February at the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

Using some 160 works from traditionally black universities and American and European foundations and museums, the exhibition “The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism” will offer a comprehensive overview of what was the first international modern art movement led by African Americans.

It is, according to the museum, a “pioneering and fundamental period in the art of the 20th century.”

The epicenter of this movement was located in the popular neighborhood of Harlem, in New York, and in the South Side, of Chicago, although also in other cities of the country after the Great Migration that arose in the decades of 1920-1940 of African-Americans who fled from the rural and segregated south in search of freedom in cities of the liberal and open north.

“This landmark exhibition reframes the Harlem Renaissance, cementing its place as the first African-American-led international modern art movement,” museum director Max Hollein said in a statement.

The show underscores “the pivotal role of movement in shaping the representation of the modern black subject and, indeed, the very fabric of early 20th-century modern art,” Hollein adds.

The exhibition will explore from the philosophy that shaped what Howard University professor Alain Locke defined as the New Negro, a movement in art and literature, through the artists who shared “the commitment to represent the black subject in a radically modern culture and to reject prevailing racist stereotypes” or what life was like for blacks in their new cities.

Likewise, it will review the work of black artists who lived and worked in Europe in juxtaposition with portraits of the international African diaspora made by Europeans such as Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Kees Van Dogen or Ronald Moody.

One part will focus on social aspects such as queer identity, colorism and class tensions, and the interracial relations of this New Negro movement that came to an end at the height of the civil rights movement of the 1950s.

Literary and musical figures such as Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson, or artistic figures such as Charles Alston, Miguel Covarrubias, Aaron Douglas, Meta Warrick Fuller, William H. Johnson, Archibald Motley, Jr., Winold Reiss, Augusta Savage, James Van Der Zee and Laura Wheeler Waring are part of the exhibition.

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