Livin is Easy: Harlem Renaissance - Ashaunte Trent

This gallery showcases how African-Americans spent their leisure time during The Harlem Renaissance. Government programs in the 1930’s allowed for blacks to excel in Jazz, Art and Spoken word. This showcase emphasizes on the unguarded moments of blacks, night life, neighborhood fun and good times with family and friends.

This is one of the four panels Aaron Douglas painted for Aspects of Negro Life. This particular painting shows black silhouettes (which is Douglas’s signature style) in a two dimensional state. In the front row the dark silhouettes are working, digging, shoveling in the woods. The 2nd row of silhouettes are painted lighter than the first. This row shows the silhouettes playing music, we can see one silhouette playing the guitar and another playing a banjo. The third row, which is painted grey, shows the silhouettes dancing to the music. The color scheme for the painting is Analogous. Douglas liked to use natural color or hues that where similar to each other.
“Blues Singer” focuses on an impromptu singing session from some of the customers of a parlor. We see one guy playing the piano and the other two men around him and the bartender, enjoying the tunes. The male in the blue denim shirt looks to be singing along or singing his part because although the lady seems to be the focal point of the painting, her facial expressions does not suggest she is singing.
Allan Crite “Tire Jumping in Front of My Window” focused on what a typical evening or weekend looked like in an African American community. There are children playing in the street, engrossed in their made-up tire game. They seem to be debating the rules or going over how to play. There are women or moms gathering with other moms or women while the kids play. Crite narrates to the viewer scenery that one would see if they walked through the neighborhood themselves.
Hayden focuses on how some of the older men passed their free time. In this painting we can see a few men playing checkers in an alley way or at the end of street. They have separated themselves from the people in the background or their wives, in hopes to not have the game interrupted.
“Cocktails” is centered around five African American women gathered for drinks, good company and a lot of laughter. They are dressed in the finest of outfits, shoes and hats that may indicate they have money or they are women of status. They are also being waited on by a butler and the setting for this gathering looks to take place in a large traditional style home.
Although Hayden lived in New York and Paris, he showcased his southern roots in “Faune au Crepuscule”. In this painting Hayden focuses not only on the couple but he captures the environment around them. The moon is lite in the background, the sky is dark blue, there are big lushes’ plants throughout the yard and clearly these two are courting because the woman looks smitten by the male.
Another signature Hayden piece, “Midsummer Night in Harlem” captures the day to day living in Harlem. This painting focuses on families gathered sitting on the stoop, laughing and spending time with one another. Most of the people are shown dressed up, so either they are about to go out on the town or they are hanging out front after they have gotten in.
Edward Burra loved Jazz! In his painting "The Band" he showcases this love with vibrant water colors used boldly throughout this piece. He perfectly illustrates the mood for the nights entertainment. The band is center stage and their all white suits pop of the canvas, the lady singers are draped in their flowing dresses and big hats and every instrument is being fine tuned for the night.
This painting by Hayden focuses on a couple having a great time while dancing to some real live jazz sounds. To the far left, we see two musicians blowing their souls out their saxophone and trumpet. At the bar, a man has just bought a beautiful a drink, she seems flattered. There's another couple dancing in the background and on the right there's a card game going on. Everyone is dressed in their finest clothes. Hayden made sure to capture the bar owners personality as well, notice the sign hanging behind the bar.
This is one of my favorite paintings. Motley does a phenomenal job of showing the "Nightlife" during this time period. The colors are very vivid, vibrant and adds to the excitement of the piece. Everyone is dancing and having a great time, especially the figures towards the very back of the painting.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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