HARLEM RENAISSANCE

Dates: 1920-1940

Origin: United States

Key Artists: Aaron Douglas, Lois Mailou Jones

The Harlem or Negro Renaissance movement was a period of cultural production dating from the end of World War I through the onset of the Great Depression (recent scholarship, though, is inclined to place the terminal date at the end of the 1930s, largely because one of the works best exemplifying the spirit of this era, Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, did not appear until 1937). In his 1940 autobiography The Big Sea, poet and novelist Langston Hughes uncharitably looked back on the Harlem Renaissance as a rather peculiar moment when a small cadre of black intellectuals shared a fantasy that “the race problem had at last been solved through Art.” Chiding his fellow intellectuals for believing that poets, singers, dancers, band leaders, and philosophers would lead the “New Negro” into “green pastures of tolerance,” Hughes concluded both that this cultural movement had failed and that its failure could be attributed largely to the naive delusions of its chief proponents.

Warren, Kenneth W.. “Harlem Renaissance.” Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Ed. Michael Kelly. Oxford Art Online. 12 Mar. 2010 <http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/opr/t234/e0253&gt;

Aaron Douglas

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