The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism

In February 2024, The Metropolitan Museum of Artwork will current the groundbreaking exhibition The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism. By means of some 160 works, it can discover the excellent and far-reaching methods through which Black artists portrayed on a regular basis trendy life within the new Black cities that took form within the Twenties–40s in New York Metropolis’s Harlem and Chicago’s South Facet and nationwide within the early a long time of the Nice Migration when hundreds of thousands of African People started to maneuver away from the segregated rural South. The primary survey of the topic in New York Metropolis since 1987, the exhibition will set up the Harlem Renaissance as the primary African American–led motion of worldwide trendy artwork and can situate Black artists and their radically new portrayals of the trendy Black topic as central to our understanding of worldwide trendy artwork and trendy life.  

A major share of the work, sculpture, and works on paper on view within the exhibition come from the intensive collections of Traditionally Black Faculties and Universities (HBCUs), together with Clark Atlanta College Artwork Museum, Fisk College Galleries, Hampton College Artwork Museum, and Howard College Gallery of Artwork. Different main lenders embody the Smithsonian American Artwork Museum and the Nationwide Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., with pending loans from the Schomburg Middle for Analysis in Black Tradition. The exhibition may even embody loans from vital non-public collections and European museums.

“This landmark exhibition reframes the Harlem Renaissance, cementing its place as the primary African American–led motion of worldwide trendy artwork,” mentioned Max Hollein, The Met’s Marina Kellen French Director and CEO. “By means of compelling portraits, vibrant metropolis scenes, and dynamic portrayals of night time life created by main artists of the time, the exhibition boldly underscores the motion’s pivotal function in shaping the portrayal of the trendy Black topic—and certainly the very cloth of early Twentieth-century trendy artwork.”

“We’re more than happy to current this wide-ranging exhibition that establishes the New Negro cohort of African American artists and their allies—now generally known as the Harlem Renaissance—on the vanguard of the portrayal of contemporary Black life and tradition in Harlem and different new Black cities nationwide at a time of speedy growth within the first a long time of the Nice Migration,” added Denise Murrell, The Met’s Merryl H. and James S. Tisch Curator at Massive. “Many New Negro artists spent prolonged durations overseas and joined the multiethnic inventive circles in Paris, London, and Northern Europe that formed the event of worldwide trendy artwork. The exhibition underscores the important function of the Harlem Renaissance and its radically new modes of portraying the trendy Black topic as central to the event of transatlantic trendy artwork.”

The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism will open with galleries that discover the cultural philosophy that gave form to the New Negro motion of artwork and literature, a time period outlined and popularized by the motion’s founding thinker, Howard College professor Alain Locke, in dialogue and debate with W.E.B. Du Bois, Charles S. Johnson, and influential literary and music figures together with Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and James Weldon Johnson. On the core of the exhibition are the artists who shared a dedication to depicting the trendy Black topic in a radically trendy approach and to refusing the prevailing racist stereotypes. Though united of their shared goal to painting all elements of contemporary Black life and tradition, particular person New Negro artists developed broadly assorted representational kinds, starting from an engagement with African and Egyptian aesthetics and European avant-garde pictorial methods to a dedication to classicized tutorial custom.

Featured artists embody 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.

The exhibition will proceed with galleries dedicated to portraiture and style scenes that seize all elements of Black metropolis life within the Twenties–40s as seen in vibrant work, sculpture, and movie projections in addition to pictures from The Met’s lately acquired James Van Der Zee Archive and artists’ cowl illustrations for books and periodicals, together with the NAACP’s Disaster and the Nationwide City League’s Alternative: A Journal of Negro Life. Monumentally scaled allegorical historical past work and portraits of luminaries will present compelling vista views.

A gallery that includes work by New Negro artists who lived and labored in Europe throughout prolonged durations of expatriation will current their work in direct juxtaposition with portrayals of the worldwide African diaspora by Black and white European artists together with Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch, and Pablo Picasso, in addition to Germaine Casse, Kees Van Dongen, Jacob Epstein, and Ronald Moody.

The New Negro period’s fraught strategy to social points together with queer identification, colorism and sophistication tensions, and interracial relations would be the topic of a gallery that includes work, ephemera, and pictures animated by movie clips. The exhibition will conclude with an artist-as-activist gallery spotlighting artists’ therapy of social justice points because the New Negro period involves a detailed on the cusp of the Nineteen Fifties civil rights motion. A coda will function Romare Bearden’s 15-foot-wide sequence of collages, The Block (1970), from The Met assortment, which evokes a city home row in mid-century Harlem and that sustains the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance.

In preparation for the exhibition, The Met is endeavor intensive archival analysis, conservation and restoration therapy, and authentic pictures of essential however seldom seen artworks.

The Met has an prolonged historical past of accumulating and displaying works by artists lively in the course of the Harlem Renaissance. Within the Nineteen Forties, the Museum acquired a number of early works by reward from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), similar to Jacob Lawrence’s Pool Parlor (1942). In 1969, the Museum offered the exhibition “Harlem on My Thoughts”: The Cultural Capital of Black America, 1900–1968, which was met with nice controversy for excluding works of portray and sculpture by Black artists and as a substitute presenting a social narrative of Harlem instructed via reproductions of newspaper clippings and images of distinguished leaders and nameless Harlem residents—in large-scale dioramas extra much like ethnographic or pure historical past museum shows than to artwork museum galleries. For the practically 50 years since that exhibition, The Met has expanded its holdings of works produced in the course of the Harlem Renaissance—notably in 2021 with the institution of the James Van Der Zee Archive in partnership with the Studio Museum in Harlem—and it continues to be an space of focus. The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism will present an artwork and artist centered celebration and investigation into the Harlem Renaissance as a trailblazing, pivotal interval inside the artwork of the Twentieth century.

Credit and Associated Content material
The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism is organized by The Met’s Denise Murrell, PhD, Merryl H. and James S. Tisch Curator at Massive, Workplace of the Director, in session with an advisory committee of main students.

A totally illustrated scholarly catalogue on the colourful historical past of the Harlem Renaissance will accompany the exhibition. It is going to function essays that discover how the circulate of concepts via Black inventive communities on each side of the Atlantic contributed to worldwide conversations round artwork, race, and identification whereas serving to to outline our notion of modernism. {The catalogue} is printed by The Metropolitan Museum of Artwork and distributed by Yale College Press; it will likely be obtainable for buy from The Met Retailer.