Black American Artists, Art, and Exhibitions and the White Art World in the 1920s and 30s
Mahone, Malikah Q.
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This research will focus on the writings of twentieth century black scholars, W.E.B Du Bois and Alaine Locke, who shaped the movement for the “New Negro” artist and placed Harlem as the center for the Negro Renaissance. White collectors and curators play a significant role in the process of legitimizing art by blacks and its inclusion in the canon. The William Harmon Foundation and its annual art exhibitions from 1926 to 1933 supported and discussed works produced by black American artists, but also promoted ideas of racial uniqueness and amateurism. This paper will argue against a shared experience and suggest that many black artists were able to mediate their identities to produce art that appealed to all of their artistic personalities and led to their success. Finally, the essay will survey the works of Hale Woodruff, a black twentieth-century artist who found success and developed an artistic identity as a black artist.