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Art in the US during the 1920s and 1930s
Art in the US during the 1920s and 1930s
Art in the US during the 1920s and 1930s The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance (1920s–1930s) was an African-American cultural movement known for its proliferation in art, music, and literature.
Discuss the characteristics, themes, and contributing factors of the Harlem Renaissance
The cultural and political Harlem Renaissance produced visual art, novels, plays, poems, music, and dance that represented the flowering of a distinctive African-American expression.
Along with the artists, political leaders such as Marcus Garvey founded potent philosophies of black self-determination and unity among black communities in the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa.
Harlem became an African-American neighborhood in the early 1900s, during the Great Migration in which many African Americans sought a better standard of living and relief from the institutionalized racism in the South.
While there was no unifying characteristic of the movement, common themes included the influence of slavery, black identity, the effects of institutional racism, and how to convey the experience of modern black life in the urban North.
Notable visual artists of the movement include Aaron Douglas, Archibald Motley, Charles Henry Alston, and Jacob Lawrence.
Red Summer: The race riots that occurred in more than three dozen cities in the United States during the summer and early autumn of 1919.race riots: Riots caused by racial hatred or dissension. They occurred throughout the 20th century, especially before and during the Civil Rights Movement.blackface: A style of theatrical makeup in which a white person blackens their face in order to represent a negro.
The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement in the United States that spanned the 1920s and 1930s. While the zenith of the movement occurred between 1924 and 1929, its ideas have lived on much longer. At the time, it was known as the New Negro Movement, named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke.
This cultural and political renaissance produced novels, plays, murals, poems, music, dance, and other artwork that represented the flowering of a distinctive African-American expression. Along with the artists, political leaders such as Marcus Garvey founded potent philosophies of self-determination and unity among black communities in the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa.
At the same time, activists like Hubert Harrison challenged the notion of the renaissance, arguing that the term was largely a white invention that overlooked the continuous stream of creativity that had emerged from the African-American community since 1850.
The district of Harlem had originally developed in the 19th century as an exclusive suburb for the white middle and upper classes. During the enormous influx of European immigrants in the late 19th century, the once exclusive district was abandoned by whites, who moved further north.
Harlem became an African-American neighborhood in the early 1900s, during the Great Migration in which many sought a better standard of living and relief from the institutionalized racism in the South. Others of African descent came from racially stratified communities in the Caribbean, seeking a better life in the U.S. By 1930, 90,000 new arrivals joined the African-Americans already living there, creating a community of nearly 200,000.
Despite the increasing popularity of black culture, virulent white racism continued to affect African-American communities. Race riots and other civil uprisings occurred throughout the U.S. during the Red Summer of 1919, reflecting economic competition over jobs, housing, and social territories.
Characteristics and Themes
What characterized the Harlem Renaissance was an overt racial pride and the developing idea of a new black identity, that through intellect and production of literature, art, and music could challenge the pervading racism and promote progressive politics.
There was no uniting form characterizing the art that emerged, however. It encompassed a wide variety of styles, including Pan-African perspectives; high culture and low culture; traditional music to blues and jazz; traditional and experimental forms in literature, such as modernism; and the new form of jazz poetry.
Some common themes represented during the Harlem Renaissance were the influence of slavery, black identity, the effects of institutional racism, the dilemmas of performing and writing for elite white audiences, and how to convey the experience of modern black life in the urban North.
New authors attracted a great amount of national attention, and the Harlem Renaissance led to more opportunities for blacks to be published by mainstream houses. Some authors who became nationally known were Jean Toomer, Jessie Fauset, Claude McKay, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, Alain Locke, Eric D. Walrond, and Langston Hughes.
Langston Hughes: Langston Hughes was one of the most well-known writers to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance.
A new way of playing the piano called Harlem Stride was also created during the Renaissance, and jazz musicians like Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, and Willie “The Lion” Smith are considered to have laid the foundation for future musicians of their genre.
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This article is about the African-American cultural movement in New York City in the 1920s. For the album by Benny Carter, see Harlem Renaissance (album). For the eponymous basketball team, see New York Renaissance.
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Part of the Roaring Twenties
Three African-American women in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance in 1925
Date 1918 – mid 1930s
Location Harlem, New York City, United States and influences from Paris, France
Also known as New Negro Movement
Participants Various artists and social critics
Outcome Mainstream recognition of cultural developments and idea of New Negro
The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual and cultural revival of African American music, dance, art, fashion, literature, theater, politics and scholarship centered in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, spanning the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after , a 1925 anthology edited by Alain Locke. The movement also included the new African American cultural expressions across the urban areas in the Northeast and Midwest United States affected by a renewed militancy in the general struggle for civil rights, combined with the Great Migration of African American workers fleeing the racist conditions of the Jim Crow Deep South, as Harlem was the final destination of the largest number of those who migrated north.
Though it was centered in the Harlem neighborhood, many francophone black writers from African and Caribbean colonies who lived in Paris were also influenced by the movement, which spanned from about 1918 until the mid-1930s. Many of its ideas lived on much longer. The zenith of this "flowering of Negro literature", as James Weldon Johnson preferred to call the Harlem Renaissance, took place between 1924—when hosted a party for black writers where many white publishers were in attendance—and 1929, the year of the stock-market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression. The Harlem Renaissance is considered to have been a rebirth of the African-American arts. Many people would argue that the Harlem Renaissance never ended and has continued to be an important cultural force in the United States through the decades: from the age of stride piano jazz and blues to the ages of bebop, rock and roll, soul, disco and hip-hop.
1 Background 2 Development
2.1 Mainstream recognition of Harlem culture
2.2 Literature 2.3 Religion 2.3.1 Discourse 2.3.2 Criticism 2.4 Music
2.4.1 Musical theatre
3 Characteristics and themes
4.1 A new Black identity
4.2 Criticism of the movement
5 Works associated with the Harlem Renaissance
6 See also
7 Notes and references
7.1 Notes 7.2 References 7.3 Further reading 8 External links
Harlem in Upper Manhattan
Until the end of the Civil War, the majority of African Americans had been enslaved and lived in the South. During the Reconstruction Era, the emancipated African Americans, freedmen, began to strive for civic participation, political equality and economic and cultural self-determination. Soon after the end of the Civil War the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 gave rise to speeches by African-American Congressmen addressing this Bill. By 1875, sixteen African Americans had been elected and served in Congress and gave numerous speeches with their newfound civil empowerment.
The Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 was followed by the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1875, part of Reconstruction legislation by Republicans. During the mid-to-late 1870s, racist whites organized in the Democratic Party launched a murderous campaign of racist terrorism to regain political power throughout the South. From 1890 to 1908, they proceeded to pass legislation that disenfranchised most African Americans and many poor whites, trapping them without representation. They established white supremacist regimes of Jim Crow segregation in the South and one-party block voting behind southern Democrats.
Democratic Party politicians (many having been former slaveowners and political and military leaders of the Confederacy) conspired to deny African Americans their exercise of civil and political rights by terrorizing black communities with lynch mobs and other forms of vigilante violence as well as by instituting a convict labor system that forced many thousands of African Americans back into unpaid labor in mines, on plantations, and on public works projects such as roads and levees. Convict laborers were typically subject to brutal forms of corporal punishment, overwork, and disease from unsanitary conditions. Death rates were extraordinarily high. While a small number of African Americans were able to acquire land shortly after the Civil War, most were exploited as sharecroppers. Whether sharecropping or on their own acreage, most of the black population was closely financially dependent on agriculture. This added another impetus for the Migration: The arrival of the boll weevil. The beetle eventually came to waste 8% of the country's cotton yield annually and thus disproportionately impacted this part of America's citizenry. As life in the South became increasingly difficult, African Americans began to migrate north in great numbers.
Harlem Renaissance, a blossoming (c. 1918–37) of African American culture, particularly in the creative arts, and the most influential movement in African American literary history. Embracing literary, musical, theatrical, and visual arts, participants sought to reconceptualize “the Negro” apart from the white stereotypes that had influenced Black peoples’ relationship to their heritage and to each other. They also sought to break free of Victorian moral values and bourgeois shame about aspects of their lives that might, as seen by whites, reinforce racist beliefs. Never dominated by a particular school of thought but rather characterized by intense debate, the movement laid
American literature and art
By George Hutchinson • Edit History
the Cotton Club See all media Date: 1918 - 1937
Location: Harlem New York New York City United States
Key People: Langston Hughes Zora Neale Hurston James VanDerZee Dorothy West Aaron Douglas
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Harlem Renaissance, a blossoming (c. 1918–37) of African American culture, particularly in the creative arts, and the most influential movement in African American literary history. Embracing literary, musical, theatrical, and visual arts, participants sought to reconceptualize “the Negro” apart from the white stereotypes that had influenced Black peoples’ relationship to their heritage and to each other. They also sought to break free of Victorian moral values and bourgeois shame about aspects of their lives that might, as seen by whites, reinforce racist beliefs. Never dominated by a particular school of thought but rather characterized by intense debate, the movement laid the groundwork for all later African American literature and had an enormous impact on subsequent Black literature and consciousness worldwide. While the renaissance was not confined to the Harlem district of New York City, Harlem attracted a remarkable concentration of intellect and talent and served as the symbolic capital of this cultural awakening.
How did the Harlem Renaissance use art to challenge white supremacy?
Learn more about the Harlem Renaissance.
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The Harlem Renaissance was a phase of a larger New Negro movement that had emerged in the early 20th century and in some ways ushered in the civil rights movement of the late 1940s and early 1950s. The social foundations of this movement included the Great Migration of African Americans from rural to urban spaces and from South to North; dramatically rising levels of literacy; the creation of national organizations dedicated to pressing African American civil rights, “uplifting” the race, and opening socioeconomic opportunities; and developing race pride, including pan-African sensibilities and programs. Black exiles and expatriates from the Caribbean and Africa crossed paths in metropoles such as New York City and Paris after World War I and had an invigorating influence on each other that gave the broader “Negro renaissance” (as it was then known) a profoundly important international cast.
Art of the Harlem Renaissance
Literature was not the only art that flourished during the Harlem Renaissance. Take this quiz to test your knowledge of the visual arts and artists of that period.
The Harlem Renaissance is unusual among literary and artistic movements for its close relationship to civil rights and reform organizations. Crucial to the movement were magazines such as The Crisis, published by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Opportunity, published by the National Urban League; and The Messenger, a socialist journal eventually connected with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a Black labour union. Negro World, the newspaper of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, also played a role, but few of the major authors or artists identified with Garvey’s “Back to Africa” movement, even if they contributed to the paper.
Cover of The Crisis's October 1914 issue, which was dedicated to children's issues.
The New York Public Library
The renaissance had many sources in Black culture, primarily of the United States and the Caribbean, and manifested itself well beyond Harlem. As its symbolic capital, Harlem was a catalyst for artistic experimentation and a highly popular nightlife destination. Its location in the communications capital of North America helped give the “New Negroes” visibility and opportunities for publication not evident elsewhere. Located just north of Central Park, Harlem was a formerly white residential district that by the early 1920s was becoming virtually a Black city within the borough of Manhattan. Other boroughs of New York City were also home to people now identified with the renaissance, but they often crossed paths in Harlem or went to special events at the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library. Black intellectuals from Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and other cities (where they had their own intellectual circles, theatres, and reading groups) also met in Harlem or settled there. New York City had an extraordinarily diverse and decentred Black social world in which no one group could monopolize cultural authority. As a result, it was a particularly fertile place for cultural experimentation.