The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism

Various authors
332 pages
262 illustrations
9" x 11"
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Beginning in the 1920s, Upper Manhattan became the center of an explosion of art, writing, and ideas that has since become legendary. But what we now know as the Harlem Renaissance, the first movement of international modern art led by African Americans, extended far beyond New York City. This volume reexamines the Harlem Renaissance as part of a global flowering of Black creativity, with roots in the New Negro theories and aesthetics of Alain Locke, its founding philosopher, as well as the writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston. Featuring artists such as Aaron Douglas, Charles Henry Alston, Augusta Savage, and William H. Johnson, who synthesized the expressive figuration of the European avant-garde with the aesthetics of African sculpture and folk art to render all aspects of African American city life, this publication also includes works by lesser-known contributors, including Laura Wheeler Waring and Samuel Joseph Brown, Jr., who took a more classical approach to depicting Black subjects with dignity, interiority, and gravitas. The works of New Negro artists active abroad are also examined in juxtaposition with those of their European and international African diasporan peers, from Germaine Casse and Ronald Moody to Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch, and Pablo Picasso. This reframing of a celebrated cultural phenomenon shows how the flow of ideas through Black artistic communities on both sides of the Atlantic contributed to international conversations around art, race, and identity while helping to define our notion of modernism.

Met Art in Publication

Lenox Avenue, Sargent Claude Johnson  American, Lithograph
Sargent Claude Johnson
Nightclub Singer, Louise E. Jefferson  American, Lithograph
Louise E. Jefferson
ca. 1938
The Welder, Dox Thrash  American, Carborundum mezzotint
Dox Thrash
ca. 1936–41
Boy in Mask, Harlem, Sonia Handelman Meyer  American, Gelatin silver print
Sonia Handelman Meyer
The Journey of the Magi, Sassetta (Stefano di Giovanni)  Italian, Tempera and gold on wood
Sassetta (Stefano di Giovanni)
ca. 1433–35
Pool Parlor, Jacob Lawrence  American, Watercolor and gouache on paper
Jacob Lawrence
The Photographer, Jacob Lawrence  American, Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paper
Jacob Lawrence
[Bride], James Van Der Zee  American, Gelatin silver print
James Van Der Zee
[Luncheon Party, Harlem], James Van Der Zee  American, Gelatin silver print
James Van Der Zee
Girl in a Red Dress, Charles Henry Alston  American, Oil on canvas
Charles Henry Alston
Girl in Blue Dress, Samuel Joseph Brown, Jr.  American, Watercolor on paper
Samuel Joseph Brown, Jr.
Head of a Woman (Woman), Elizabeth Catlett  American and Mexican, Oil on canvas
Elizabeth Catlett
Self-Portrait II, Horace Pippin  American, Oil on canvas, adhered to cardboard
Horace Pippin
Let My People Go, Aaron Douglas  American, Oil on Masonite
Aaron Douglas
ca. 1935–39
Boxer, Richmond Barthé  American, Bronze
Richmond Barthé
Martiniquaise etude pour "Fleurs du Mal", Henri Matisse  French, Chine collé etching
Henri Matisse
View of Cagnes, Chaim Soutine  French, born Lithuania, Oil on canvas
Chaim Soutine
ca. 1924–25
Josephine Baker, Adolf de Meyer  American, born France, Direct carbon print
Adolf de Meyer
Ballet Dancers in the Attic Rotunda, Paris Opéra (Danseuse à l'Oeil-de-boeuf, Opéra de Paris), Yves Brayer, Oil on canvas, French
Yves Brayer
[Identical Twins], James Van Der Zee  American, Gelatin silver print
James Van Der Zee
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View Citations

Murrell, Denise, ed. The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2024.