I am going to talk about two African American artists who for a time long enough have been termed as famous for the outstanding work they did for the time they lived. The artists are; Aoron Douglas (1859-1937) and Henry ossawa Tanner (1899-1979) Aoron Douglas was born on the 26th of May 1899 in Topeka in Kansas. His parents were Aoron and Elizabeth Douglas. He studied at the University Of Nebraska School Of Fine Arts in Lincoln. In 1922 he graduated with a BFA.
Although he was born and brought up in the same state, he left the place at some point to begin a journey that unexpectedly and in the fullness of glamour, luck and victory lead to him being recognized as one of the greatest artists of his time. After graduation, he began to teach in a High School in Kansas, after a year of teaching art in Kansas City, Missouri, Douglas moved to Newyork city’s Harlem neighborhood. This was in 1924, the same time when he began to study under German artist Winhold Reiss; this is where he is considered to have taken the center stage in the Harlem Renaissance.
His mentor never encouraged him to do Penchant traditional realistic painting but instead encouraged him to explore art for design elements. He developed and embraced the teachings of his mentor and hence grew into a unique artist with outstanding skills. The achievements of Douglas were numerous and this mainly give the reasons as to why I like him, his works have still remained visible and speaks much even in the present world.
He is considered to be the Harlem Renaissance artist, his work was the best exemplification of the new Negro philosophy. To digress abit, the Harlem renaissance marked the firs time that mainstream publishers and artists took the African American literature seriously, it was primarily a literary movement which emerged at the end of world war one in 1915, blossomed in the mid-to late 1920s and then faded in the mid air in the 1930s.
I first give a thumps up to Aoron Douglas for his involvement in the Harlem renaissance because through this, the African American literature attracted significant attention from the nation at large, hence enhancing its exposure and subsequently depicting Douglas as a creative pioneer whose skills were always in use for an extremely powerful desired end. The Harlem renaissance through the pilot ship of Aoron Douglas led to the development in African American music, Art Theater and politics.
Backed up by another effective movement, dubbed The Blues, the effects of the Harlem renaissance became beautiful enough to be held I high esteem in terms of consideration. Aoron therefore initiated and gave room for a social interaction between the blacks and the whites, hence bringing about unity and wiping slowly, racism. His work also influenced some American’s greatest artist, allowed blacks to express their feelings freely and opened the eyes of many due to the fruitful teaching about black heritage.
Aoron Douglas became and therefore has remained famous for his involvement in the Harlem renaissance and because of this; I have all the reasons to be happy for him, in fact I admire greatly his achievements His general numerous achievements in life, this must therefore be an exposure of the fact that he was always focused on what he wanted to get and in most cases he made sure he did. He was considered the most visual artist of his time, his work was always relevant top the time or place setting, this gave room for a clearer interpretation and understanding of the aspect walled.
Aoron Douglas [printed murals for public buildings, did book illustrations and also produced powerful artistic forms which incorporated music, dance, literature and politics, this enabled his work to have a lasting Impact on the American art history and the nation’s cultural heritage. His work combined angular cubist rhythm and seductive art deco- dynamism with traditional African American imagery to develop a radically new visual vocabulary that evoked both the current realities and the hopes for a better future.
His work also created a socially engaged vision of optimism and self expression that has influenced generations ever since. His work opened doors for many an artists Talking of what I don’t like about the author who apparently achieved so much would really be a great challenge but all the same I feel safe enough to insert that Aoron Douglas’s work at one point or the other and for one reason or the pother lacked exposure, in that it did nit reach many a people.
Also his not at any point emphasized on spiritual or moral uprightness he overlooked the main foundation that builds up to a world free of racism, though he was not for it, eradicating it was banked on firmly established moral standards and spiritual positions of people. The other artist whom I am going to talk about is Henry Ossawa Tanner. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Benjamin Tucker, a minister of the African Methodist, Episcopal Church, and Sarah Miller Tanner who was a private school teacher.
He was the oldest of the nine children, in 1864 Tanner and his family moved to Philadelphia and this is where his artistic interests developed. At the age of thirteen he decided to become an artist, this was after he saw a painter in Fairmount Park in his home. He then enrolled at the Pennsylvania academy of fine arts, through out his teens, he painted and drew constantly in his spare time and tried to look at art as much as possible in the Philadelphia art gallery. He also studied briefly with two of the city’s minor painters.
In the academy, he studied with a group of master professors including Thomas Eakins who apparently exerted the greatest influence on his early style. Prior to graduating, he left the University and moved to Atlanta Georgia where he established a modest photograph gallery, in this he attempted to earn a living by selling drawings, making photographs and teaching art classes at Clark college/ University, but this never gave him enough financial stability. After an unsuccessful attempt to open a photography studio in Atlanta, Tanner travelled to Paris France.
This was after meeting Bishop and Mrs. Joseph Crane Hartzell who became his primary white patrons over the next several years. While in France, he joined the American Art Students Club of Paris. Tanner considered Paris a welcome scope for him in that within French circles, the issue of race never mattered much to him anymore. He was introduced to many new artworks that would affect the way in which he painted. He encountered and studied with renowned artist like Jean Joseph, Benjamin Constant and Jean Paul Laurens. With this kind of guidance, Tanner began to make a name for himself.
His painting entitled ‘Daniel in the lion’s den’ was attractive, impressive and therefore was accepted in the 1896 salon. Later the same year, he did ‘The resurrection of Lazarus’, this earned him critical praise and hence strengthened his position in the artistic elite and heralded the future direction of his painting to mostly biblical themes, and perhaps as a major achievement then, the painting led to Tanner’s first trip to the Middle East. Upon seeing the ‘Resurrection of Lazarus’ art critic offered to cover for an all expenses-paid trip for Tanner to the Middle East.
In The Middle East specifically in Palestine, he explored first hand, the environment, mostly mosques and biblical sites as well as studies of the local population and this greatly helped to further his artistic training. In order to back up the fact that I like most of the things about Tanner, I must say that he was extremely creative and adventurous, he mad e use of every opportunity around him in order to improve or rather develop on his artistic skills. His humility and industriousness are things that for sure cannot go unnoticed.
Even though he came from a wealthy family, he was not deterred from holding onto individual responsibilities for instance, he left for Atlanta and then worked by teaching in a University and through this he earned a living though it did not stabilize him financially but he surely did, he literally was able to take care of himself at an age so early. He is also an artist who greatly upheld perseverance, even though it took him along time before he became recognized and also financially stable, he never gave up at any instance.
Despite the fact that his surrounding was polluted with racism he never looked back, his endurance and a focus that remained maintained through out eventually landed him in France where his development initialized before he grew into a famous artist. He painted mainly black genre paintings such as ‘The Banjo Lesson’ which was and is considered to be the best; he drew on his background to become principally a painter of religious subjects. He was a winner of many awards and also received widespread recognition.
On the other hand, he faced constant financial hardships and it is really a pity that in all that fame, recognition and achievement, he still could not invest in anything or maybe organic\se himself in order to sustain or rather make continuous his financial stability. I also consider him as a coward and timid due to the fact that he never wanted to live in his country state because of racism he sort to show escapism by moving to another country, France to explore and apply his skills in a foreign land
Another thing is hat his work amidst all the fame was not exposed enough to reach many people. It leaves one with many questions like why he largely remains unknown and underrated to the public today; this may be because his work lacked dependable strategy. Otherwise, Henry Ossawa Tanner undeniably left his mark on the art world. Work Cited Dewey, F. (1995). Across Continents and Cultures: The Art and Life of Henry Ossawa Tanner. USA: Hodgins Printing Company. Ellwood P. (1980).
Nineteenth Century Afro-American Artists. Chicago, USA: Cedar Rapids Art Center Press. Frank, N. and Woods (1993). Insuperable Obstacles: Impact of the creative and personal development of nineteenth century African American Artists. USA: Union Institute Press Mathews, M. (1995). Henry Ossawa Tanner: American Artist. Chicago, USA: University of Chicago. Thomas M. (1997). What Manner of Men? A Reconsideration of the Synapses Art History of Paintings and Images of African Men. Lanham, USA: University Press.