This is a painting by Archibald J. Motley Jr called “Saturday Night.” It describes a saturday night at a jazz club during the Harlem Renaissance. You’ll notice the woman in red dancing and the Jazz band in the background. Voluptuous, well-dressed women and men in suits linger in the background. It’s a vibrant, sexy scene in my opinion.
The Harlem Renaissance or New Negro movement spanned from the 1920s-1930s. It was a vibrant time in African-American history where we took our lives, our pain, our joys and used them in our artwork. Singers, musicians, writers, artists all came together and sparked a movement where Blacks could live their lives by their own definition. They didn’t have to constrained to the caricatures and minstrel shows that depicted them as one-dimensional, arsantz human beings. They breathed life into their artwork and gave a voice to multitudes of African-Americans would weren’t permitted to speak up. They celebrated life, it’s joys and sorrows. The Harlem Renaissance is remembered for artists such as Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Archibald Motley Jr.
I’ve included two works from the Harlem Renaissance, what are you thoughts?
Bessie Smith’s After You’ve Gone