Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Jitterbugs V

Artist:
William Henry Johnson (American, 1901–1970)
Date:
ca. 1941–42
Medium:
Screenprint
Dimensions:
17 1/2 x 11 1/4 in. (44.5 x 28.6 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
Gift of Reba and Dave Williams, 1999
Accession Number:
1999.529.78
Not on view
Johnson created his lively series of Jitterbug paintings and screenprints (ca. 1940-42) while teaching at the WPA's Harlem Community Art Center. After 13 years of living abroad and painting in a modernist style, the artist returned to the United States in 1938 to record the daily lives of African Americans in a manner akin to naïve folk art. Here, a flamboyantly dressed couple dances wildly at one of Harlem's popular nightspots to the loud music being played on two trumpets and drum set. Artist Romare Bearden (who knew Johnson) recalled his own experiences at the time: "Three nights a week, we were at the Savoy Ballroom. Charlie Buchanan, who ran the place, liked artists to come to the Savoy. The best dancing in the world was there, and the best music. When we left the Savoy, we'd go to the after-hours spots….They called us the Dawn Patrol. We moved till dawn, from one after-hours spot to another."
Signature: not signed

Inscription: Signed and inscribed (in pencil, verso): FO-259-A(12) Jitterbugs III / William H. Johnson
Newark Museum, held jointly at the Equitable Gallery, New York. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," December 10, 1992–February 28, 1993, no. 38.

Long Beach Museum of Art. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," June 4–August 8, 1993, no. 38.

Cambridge, England. Fitzwilliam Museum. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," October 5–December 19, 1993, no. 38.

Albany. New York State Museum. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," January 5–March 13, 1994, no. 38.

New Haven. Yale University Art Gallery. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," April 7–June 12, 1994, no. 38.

Louisville. J. B. Speed Art Museum. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," July 12–September 4, 1994, no. 38.

Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," October 9–December 4, 1994, no. 38.

Baltimore Museum of Art. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," January 4–February 26, 1995, no. 38.

Charleston. Gibbs Museum of Art. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," March 26–May 21, 1995, no. 38.

Miami Beach. Bass Museum of Art. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," June 18–August 13, 1995, no. 38.

Little Rock. Arkansas Arts Center. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," September 10–November 5, 1995, no. 38.

Mobile, Ala. Fine Arts Museum of the South. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," December 3, 1995–January 28, 1996, no. 38.

Brooklyn Museum. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," February 25–April 22, 1996, no. 38.

Art Institute of Chicago. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," May 17–July 14, 1996, no. 38.

Dallas Museum of Art. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," August 9–October 6, 1996, no. 38.

Saint Louis Art Museum. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," November 1, 1996–January 2, 1997, no. 38.

Atlanta. High Museum of Art. "Alone in a Crowd: Prints of the 1930's–1940s by African-American Artists; From the Collection of Reba and Dave Williams," January 31–March 30, 1997, no. 38.

Hamilton, N. Y. Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University. "Life Impressions: 20th-Century African American Prints from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 10–November 4, 2001.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "African-American Artists, 1929–1945: Prints, Drawings, and Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 15–May 4, 2003, extended to July 6, 2003.

New-York Historical Society. "WWII & NYC," October 5, 2012–May 27, 2013, not in catalogue.

David C. Driskell. Amistad II: Afro-American Art. Exh. cat., Van Vechten Gallery, Fisk University in cooperation with the American Missionary Association and the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, New York. Nashville, 1975, p. 53, ill. (unknown edition).

Gylbert Coker and Corinne Jennings. The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art. Exh. cat., San Antonio Museum of Art. San Antonio, 1994, p. 25, ill. (not this edition).

Richard J. Powell. Black Art and Culture in the 20th Century. New York, 1997, p. 92, ill. (unknown edition).

Steve Turner and Victoria Dailey. William H. Johnson: Truth Be Told. Exh. cat., Louisiana Art and Science Center, Baton Rouge. Los Angeles, 1998, (not this edition).



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