Your Federal Quarterly Tax Payments are due April 15th Get Help Now >>

Imagining African-Americans by x5JuAPFy


									                                Learn More – Teach More
                                  Content Module Topic
                       Imagining African Americans in American Art


John Biggers (1924-2001) Born in Gastonia, North Carolina, in 1924, Biggers was an African-
American printmaker, painter, and sculptor whose work celebrated African and African-
American Life. Biggers often produced public murals, which reflected the influence of the social
realism and narrative style of the 1930s and 1950s. His later work reflected figures and forms
that were arranged in a kind of abstract, geometric, Modernist mode. Biggers died in Houston in
2001. For more information on Biggers and an image of "The Harvesters" (1947), visit the
Museum of Fine Arts page on Biggers at

Thomas Hicks (1823-1890) American painter who was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania,
studied art with his cousin Edward Hicks ("Peaceable Kingdom") and also in New York and in
Paris. Though he worked in many genres, Hicks's portraits of famous Americans, including
Henry Ward Beecher and Abraham Lincoln, are the chief sources of his fame. Other works--
"Musical Barbershop" and "The Musicale, Barbershop, Trenton Falls, New York" depict images
of the American scene at mid-century.
For a view of "Frugal Meal" and "The Musical Barbershop," visit

Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) African-American painter perhaps most famous for his
"Migration Series" (1940), which consisted of sixty images of the great northward movement of
African-Americans from South to North after World War I. Lawrence trained as an artist at the
Harlem Art Workshop, which was located inside the 135th Street Branch of the New York
Public Library. Lawrence was younger than his fellow African-American artists and thinkers
who participated in the Harlem Renaissance and his attitudes were somewhat at odds with theirs.
He wanted to find a style that combined the universality of Modernist aesthetic values with an
authentic representation of African-American life and experience. He called his style "dynamic
cubism," and many of his subjects--race riots, poverty, slums, even the Great Migration itself-
are grounded in a meticulous attention to historical context--Lawrence researched his subject
matter for the Migration Series in the Schomburg Collection of the New York Public Library –
but he never allows his work to descend to the kind of propaganda represented by the work of
contemporary Popular Front Social Realists. Lawrence's debt to Modernists like Matisse are
reflected in his use of silhouettes, his use of color, and in the way he manipulates form.
"Forward" (1967), which is housed at the N.C. Museum of Art, depicts an incident in the life of
Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery only to return to the South to rescue other slaves. For an
online image, visit
Images of a range of Lawrence's work, including his "Revolt on the Amistad" (1989), his
representation of the "Amistad" incident of 1839-41, may be viewed at

Christian Mayr (1805-1851) German-American painter who was born in Nuremberg, Germany,
the son of an artist and engraver. Mayr trained in Nuremberg and in Munich, but he first
exhibited his work at the National Academy of Design in New York in 1834. He lived for a long
time in Charleston, South Carolina, where he became a prominent portrait painter. Mayr's work
is also important for his representation of relations between Indians and settlers and for his
depiction of the lives and conditions of the life and conditions of African slaves in the American
South. After sojourns in Havana and New Orleans, Mayr spent the rest of his life in New York.
For a view of "Kitchen Ball at White Sulphur Springs, Virginia" (1838) visit

William Ranney (1813-1857) German-American painter who celebrated the American West and
championed America's expansionist vision and sense of Manifest Destiny in the 1840s and 1850s
in such paintings as "Boone's First View of Kentucky" (1849), and "First News of the Battle of
Lexington” (1847). For a view of "Boone's First View of Kentucky," visit
For a view of "First News of the Battle of Lexington," at the N.C. Museum of Art, visit

To top