Exhibition Dates: January 15 – July 6, 2003
Exhibition Location: The Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Gallery
Press preview: Monday, January 13, 10:00 a.m. - noon
More than 70 works—drawn extensively from 204 prints donated to the Museum by Reba and Dave Williams in 1999—will be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from January 15 through May 4, 2003.
African-American Artists, 1929–1945: Prints, Drawings, and Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art will feature a variety of print media including intaglio, lithography, woodcut and wood engraving, and screen printing (serigraph), as well as a smaller selection of paintings and watercolors, also from the Museum's collection. The exhibition focuses on aspects of daily life for African Americans from the Depression through World War II.
The exhibition is made possible by The Fletcher Foundation and Fletcher Asset Management, Inc.
Additional support has been provided by Jane and Robert Carroll.
African-American Artists, 1929–1945: Prints, Drawings, and Paintings in
The Metropolitan Museum of Art will feature the work of such artists as Robert Blackburn, Elizabeth Catlett, William H. Johnson, Raymond Steth, and Dox Thrash, for whom printmaking served as a primary creative outlet.
Paintings and watercolors by Jacob Lawrence, Joseph Delaney, Lois Mailou Jones, Horace Pippin, Romare Bearden, Samuel Joseph Brown, Palmer Hayden, and Bill Traylor supplement the selection of prints.
The exhibition will highlight the Metropolitan's holdings of African-American art made between 1929 and 1945, when new opportunities (under the WPA) led to technical innovations in printmaking and a resurgence of artistic production. The installation will explore eight central themes: Cultural Identity and Heritage, Faces (portraits), the South, the North, Religion, Labor, Recreation, and War (World War II). Pictures of home, work, and leisure activities convey the artists' dreams, aspirations, and perseverance in the face of economic and social realities, while others explore images related to their ethnic cultural heritage.
This will be the first exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in recent years to focus attention on the accomplishments of 20th-century African-American artists. It will also offer an opportunity to display a substantial number of acquisitions that have not been exhibited previously at the Metropolitan.
The exhibition is organized by Lisa M. Messinger, Associate Curator, Department of Modern Art, in consultation with William S. Lieberman, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Chairman, Department of Modern Art. The exhibition design is by Michael Langley, Exhibition Designer, with graphic design by Barbara Weiss, Graphic Designer, and lighting by Zack Zanolli, Lighting Designer, all of the Museum's Design Department.
A catalogue published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art will feature 50 works from the exhibition and contain an introductory essay by Ms. Messinger, an essay on printmaking during the WPA by Rachel Mustalish, Associate Conservator, and
an explanatory text on each work by Lisa Gail Collins, assistant professor at Vassar College. It will be available in the Museum's book shop in a paperback edition for $14.95.
The Metropolitan Museum will offer a variety of educational programs in conjunction with African-American Artists, 1929–1945: Prints, Drawings, and Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. On Sunday, February 9, at 3:00 p.m., Associate Curator Lisa Messinger will provide the curator's perspective of the works on view. Richard J. Powell, professor, Department of Art and Art History, Duke University, will deliver the lecture "Pride, Assimilation, and Dreams: African-American Images in the 1930s and 1940s" on Sunday, March 23, at 3:00 p.m. These programs will take place in the Museum's Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium and are free with Museum admission. On Friday, March 28, at 6:00 p.m., Amalia Amaki, assistant professor, Black American Studies and The Center for American Material Culture, University of Delaware, will discuss "African-American Images and the Politics of Pretty" in the Museum's Uris Center Auditorium. Also in the Uris Auditorium, Dennis C. Dickerson, professor, History Department, Vanderbilt University, will speak on "Work, Worship, and War:
African Americans in the 'Promised Land'" on Friday, April 11, at 6:00 p.m.
Poetry readings, films, musical performances, and programs for students, families, and workplaces will also be offered. For more information, the public may call the Museum's Education Department at (212) 570-3756.
An Audio Guide of the exhibition, narrated by actress Cicely Tyson, will be available; the fee for rentals will be $5.00 for members of the Museum, $6.00 for non-members, and $4.00 for children under 12.
The Audio Guide program is sponsored by Bloomberg.