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Huon Wardle

was born in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, on 14 May 1911. He was one of a small number of artistic pioneers whose aim, starting in the 1930s, was to build a distinctively Jamaican tradition in the visual arts. A cartoonist from an early age, Abrahams developed a highly idiosyncratic painterly style and iconography. In his works he employed cubist and expressionist techniques, a prophetic Christian sensibility, and a love of caricature to re-envision everyday Jamaican social life.

Carl Abrahams’s father was a Jewish émigré from Austria-Hungary. An engineer, from 1906 he began to build some of the island s first motorcars In interviews Abrahams indicates that his mother was the privileged but illegitimate child of a white English military officer and a black Jamaican woman Hence by birth Abrahams joined what at that time was referred to as the colored or brown middle class in a colonial ...

Article

Robert Fay

Alston was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. As a teenager, he served as the art editor for his high school's annual magazine. Alston earned both his undergraduate and M.A. degrees from Columbia University in New York City. He gained popular recognition for his cover illustrations for the periodicals The New Yorker and Collier's. In the 1930s Alston taught at the Harlem Art Workshop, where he was a proponent of muralism as a black art form, and from 1935 to 1936 Alston directed the Harlem Hospital murals for the Federal Arts Project. In 1950 he became the first African American teacher at the Art Students League in New York. His best-known works are the paintings Family and Walking, which are noted for their figurative content, sculptural form, and brilliant color, and which portray the experiences of African American families in the 1950s and 1960s.

Article

Christopher Tiné

Not much is known about Frédéric-Bruly Bouabré’s early life. He was raised in the Daloa department of western Côte d’Ivoire, and the local Kru culture and community were an important part of his childhood. In 1948, when Bouabré was twenty-four, the as yet undistinguished young man had a celestial vision in Dakar. According to Bouabré, the heavens opened themselves to him and he understood that he was to use his artistic talent to maintain and share the culture of his people, which is rooted in nature and folklore. After his vision Bouabré considered himself reborn as Cheik Nadro, or “he who does not forget,” and has devoted his life to his drawing and other creative projects.

Bouabré s drawings often form a series They are generally small and rectangular and have a border of narrative text around them In this regard many of his drawings strongly ...

Article

Theodore Cohen

was born on 22 November 1904 in Mexico City to José Covarrubias and Elena Duclaud. José was a civil engineer and government official who helped provide Miguel with access to Mexico’s cultural and intellectual elite. Miguel was born into a family with Spanish, French, and Mexican—but no African—ancestry. He had an elite education, attending the Horace Mann School and the Alberto Correo School in Mexico City. He married the dancer Rosa Rolando (née Rose Cowan, 1898–1870) on 24 April 1930. Although he never officially divorced her, he also married Rocío Sagaón in 1955.

Covarrubias started to draw caricatures as a child. Mexico City newspapers and cultural magazines began to publish them in 1920. With a little support from the Mexican state, Covarrubias left for New York City in the summer of 1923 Mexico s foremost cultural promoter in the United States José Juan Tablada helped ...

Article

Makeda Best

photographer. Born in Harlem, New York, in 1919, Roy DeCarava knew by the age of nine that he wanted to be an artist. His creative talent led him to the arts-oriented Textile High School. Initially enrolled at the Harlem annex, DeCarava transferred to the better-equipped main campus located in downtown Manhattan. DeCarava went on to attend college at the Cooper Union School of Art. Though inspired by the opportunities the Cooper Union offered, DeCarava left in 1940 and began attending the Works Progress Administration–sponsored Harlem Community Art Center. DeCarava thrived in Harlem's lively visual arts community, where organizations such as the Harlem Artists Guild, founded by the painter Aaron Douglas in 1935 supported classes and forums He met other African American artists and found himself at the center of discussions about African American creative expression In addition to his studies at the Harlem Art Center DeCarava worked ...

Article

American painter and illustrator. He was a leading artist of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s (see African American art §I 2.). He studied at the University of Nebraska and then in Paris with Charles Despiau and Othon Friesz (1925–31). Douglas was the earliest African American artist consciously to include African imagery in his work, which emphasized the creativity and continuity of African American culture, despite slavery and segregation. He was, however, criticized by his contemporaries for his idealism. In 1934, under the sponsorship of the Public Works of Art project (see United States of America, §XII), he designed a number of murals, including four panels depicting Aspects of Negro Life for the Schomburg Library in Harlem (New York, Pub. Lib.); this work and such others as Judgment Day (1939; USA, priv. col., see exh. cat., no. 99) and Building ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Aaron Douglas was born in Topeka, Kansas. After graduating from the University of Nebraska, he taught art at Lincoln High School in Topeka from 1923 to 1925. He moved to Harlem, New York in 1925, the year cultural critic and philosopher Alain Leroy Locke launched the New Negro movement. This movement expressed African Americans' new pride in their African heritage, which manifested itself in literature, song, dance, and most significantly for Douglas, art.

Douglas soon made the acquaintance of German American portrait artist Winold Reiss, who illustrated the March 1925 issue of Survey Graphic an issue devoted to the New Negro movement and edited by Locke Both Reiss and Locke encouraged Douglas to develop his own aesthetic from design motifs in African art Douglas followed their suggestions and sought examples of African art which in the 1920s were beginning to be purchased by American museums ...

Article

Jeannine DeLombard

Douglas, Aaron (26 May 1899–02 February 1979), artist and educator, was born in Topeka, Kansas, the son of Aaron Douglas, Sr., a baker, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown), a domestic. Educated in segregated schools until high school, Douglas’s early artistic influences included his mother’s paintings and drawings and fellow African-American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Christ and Nikodemus (1899), which young Douglas saw reproduced in a magazine.

Torn between becoming a lawyer and an artist after graduating from Topeka High School Douglas like thousands of other black laborers headed to the urban centers of the North in search of a factory job Unlike most of them however Douglas was intent on saving enough money to attend college in the fall Arriving in Detroit Michigan he worked as a plasterer but finding this work too much for his slight frame he worked for Cadillac loosening molding sand from ...

Article

A. B. Christa Schwarz

artist. Known as the “father of Black American art,” Aaron Douglas significantly influenced the field of black visual arts and dominated the visual sphere of the Harlem Renaissance, the first African American cultural movement. Douglas was born in Topeka, Kansas, one of several children of the baker Aaron Douglas Sr. from Tennessee and his wife, Elizabeth, a homemaker from Alabama. Douglas developed an interest in art at an early age, graduated from the University of Nebraska with a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1922, and took a teaching position at Lincoln High School in Kansas City in 1923, staying until 1925. Desiring to further develop his own craft and inspired by the 1925 Harlem issue of the sociology journal Survey Graphic, Douglas moved to Harlem in 1925.

Interpreting the Harlem Renaissance as an opportunity to replace old stereotypical images of African Americans ...

Article

Juliette Bridgette Milner-Thornton

Zambianartist, illustrator, wildlife conservationist, and author, was born on 23 September 1930 in Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia, present-day Zambia. Ellison's husband, Anthony Ellison (deceased) was director of Zambia State Lottery Board. The couple had no children (Polunin and Curme 1997, p. 93; The Post, 4 November 2004). Ellison spent her childhood with her parents among the Ila people in the Mumbwa and Namwala district. Ellison's childhood in rural Zambia influenced her paintings. She attended school in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Britain where she trained as an artist in private studios. In 1948 she was one of the founding members of the Art Society in Lusaka, Zambia (Setti 2000, pp. 22–30). From 1960 to 1974 Ellison was head of the graphic art and exhibition section and chief graphic artist in the Northern Rhodesia Information Services; after independence in 1964 the organization was renamed ...

Article

Minnie Jones Evans was raised by her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother in Wilmington, North Carolina. She left school after the fifth grade and began working. She was perpetually employed in low-paying jobs. At age sixteen, in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, she married Julius Caesar Evans, with whom she had three sons. Her artistic career began on Good Friday in 1935, when she began drawing in response to visions, voices, and dreams she claimed to have since childhood, whose message, she said, was “Draw or die!”

Working with simple materials crayon graphite ink and oils on paper or board Evans created thousands of mixed media drawings and collages inspired by her visions in which stylized flowers and foliage exotic birds strange creatures angels and royal or divine figures are major motifs Self taught hence an outsider rather than folk artist and a devout Christian who knew the Bible by ...

Article

Hanétha Vété-Congolo

was born Yva de Montaigne in 1912 in Trinité, Martinique, the daughter of road engineer Paul de Montaigne, himself the son of a béké man and a woman of African descent, and Eponine Vachier, a mulatto born to a French father and a mulatta mother.

She enjoyed the relative privileges of the island s mulatto class and was schooled at the Pensionnat Colonial of Fort de France Her father worked for Martinique s Department of Civil Engineering first in Trinité and then in Fort de France A Freemason he was the Worshipful Master at the local lodge One of ten children with a father who was a well respected official and member of the community Léro had mostly happy memories of her childhood On the other hand she was shocked by the poverty and misery she observed of peasant life at the time which she experienced firsthand when the family ...

Article

Thomas H. Wirth

Nugent, Richard Bruce (02 July 1906–27 May 1987), artist and writer was born in Washington D C the son of Richard Henry Nugent Jr a Pullman porter and Capitol elevator operator and Pauline Minerva Bruce Nugent Although his mother s family was prominent among Washington s African American elite the Nugents were of modest means A precocious child Nugent read widely in his father s larger than average library He was only thirteen years old and already attending Washington s renowned Dunbar High School when his father died of galloping consumption Shortly thereafter his mother moved to New York City where she secured employment as a waitress and maid Nugent and his brother Gary Lambert Pete Nugent remained with relatives in Washington for a few months then joined their mother in New York Bruce Nugent secured employment as a delivery boy and later as a bellhop His ...

Article

The son of Richard Henry and Pauline Minerva Nugent, Richard Bruce Nugent left Washington, D.C. with his recently widowed mother at the age of thirteen and moved to New York City, where he attended Dunbar High School. To support himself Nugent worked as an errand boy, bellhop, designer, and elevator operator, as well as a “secretary and a confidance man for a modiste.”

Openly gay at the age of nineteen, Nugent went by the name Richard Bruce to protect his mother from public embarrassment about his homosexuality. Although his gay identity cost him some friendships, Nugent associated with gay and bisexual contemporaries Langston Hughes, Carl Van Vechten, E. M. Forster, and Alain Locke. His dramatic “ultimate bohemian” style was the basis for Wallace Thurmanapos;s character Paul Arbian in Infants of the Spring (1932 the roman a clef that satirized figures of ...

Article

Nathan L. Grant

also known as Bruce Nugent and Richard Bruce. “Shadows,” Richard Bruce Nugent's first published poem, on the subject of race, appeared in Opportunity and was reprinted in 1927 in Countee Cullen's Caroling Dusk. “”Sahdji,” published in Alain Locke's The New Negro (1925), is a pseudo-African story characterized by the use of ellipses and contains the twin themes of homosexuality and biblical imagery that would often determine his later work. In collaboration with Locke this later became Sahdji—An African Ballet and appeared in Locke's anthology Plays of Negro Life (1927). Scored by William Grant Still, it was performed at the Eastman School of Music in 1932.

In 1926, with Wallace Thurman, Langston Hughes, Zora NealeHurston, and Aaron Douglas, Nugent's founded the controversial magazine Fire!! Nugent's “Smoke, Lilies and Jade,” apparently the first tale of ...

Article

Alanna Lockward

was born into a middle-class family in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 1965, in the midst of the civil war referred to locally as either “La guerra de abril” (the April War) or “La revolución del ’65” (the 1965 Revolution). His mother was a lawyer, as was his only brother, and his father was a pharmaceutical salesman. Recio’s family history was enmeshed in the island’s legacies of brutal dictatorships, especially that of Rafael Trujillo from the 1930s to the 1960s. Recio grew up visiting his father, in mental hospitals, where, like thousands of other victims of that time, he endured torture. This experience translated into the son’s interest in psychiatry, which is palpable in the combination of social metaphors and hallucinatory imagery characteristic of his work.

Recio was a precocious child artist who received his first training at the private school headed by the artist Nidia Siera At only ...

Article

Gérald Alexis

was born in Jacmel, Haiti, on 24 February 1924. Despite the opposition of her family, she embarked on a career in the arts soon after finishing secondary school. Her determination inspired one of her brothers to accompany her to Port-au-Prince, where in 1945 she joined the Centre d’Art, inaugurated a year before. The school awarded Turnier a full scholarship based on her potential. At the Centre, she entered a new world where she collaborated with fellow artists, writers, and poets.

In 1947, a scholarship from the Art Students League of New York gave Turnier a greater chance to broaden her horizons. She then moved to Paris, in 1951, where she married the French artist Eugenio Capri and had two daughters. In the late 1970s, she returned to and settled in Haiti.

Turnier was heavily influenced by indigenous traditions and often focused on local subject matter as well ...