How to understand Black art across the diaspora


The United States

Perhaps the mission of an artist is to interpret beauty to people - the beauty within themselves. - Langston Hughes

 The Amistad Murals, Mural No.1, The Revolt, 1938 

   Oil on canvas  
  Hale Woodruff  

The Harlem Renaissance

1918 - mid 1930’s

 The pulse of the Negro world has begun to beat in Harlem
-  Alain Locke

The Harlem Renaissance (or the New Negro Movement) was an intellectual, artistic and social movement that occurred in the early 20th century. The Great Migration saw African-Americans leaving the South to move to Northern cities. With an economic boom and an increase in industrial job opportunities, the North was also considered to provide a more racially tolerant society.

Harlem was a popular city many African-Americans moved to and became a cultural epicenter that encouraged artistic expression, experimentation, and community. This era of rebirth provided a new sense of pride in their Blackness, which was expressed through music, literature, and art. While other cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles also expreienced a cultural explosion, Harlem was a focal point for this new era.

Chicago Black Renaissance

1930’s - 1950’s

I only had my brushes to fight with 
- Charles White

Dissimilar to the Harlem Renaissace, the Chicago movement did not have an influx of wealthy patrons. Instead, Black working-class individuals found support and community with each other, mixing visuals and sounds from the Southern migrants in with the culture of the Chicago residents. Notable artists include Charles White, Margaret Burroughs, Archibald Motley Jr., and Elizabeth Catlett. 

Flower Sniffer, 1966

Oil on canvas
Emma Amos