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Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance

Group show at Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, Hayward Gallery, Arnolfini, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, The Corcoran Gallery of Art. 1997
Date: 19 June, 1997 until 17 August, 1997
Curator: Richard J. Powell and David A. Bailey
Organiser: Roger Malbert/Hayward Gallery

Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance exhibition was organised by the Hayward Gallery, London, in collaboration with the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., and the Institute of International Visual Arts, London. The exhibition was devised and selected by Richard J. Powell and David A. Bailey. It was held at Hayward Gallery, London, 19 June - 17 August 1997, Arnolfini, Bristol, 6 September - 19 October 1997, Mead Gallery, University of Warwick, 1 November - 6 December 1997, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, 17 January - 15 March 1998, and The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 11 April - 22 June 1998.

“In the years following the First World War, as black Americans migrated to the cities in the North in increasing numbers, New York’s Harlem became a magnet for musicians, writers, artists, and performers. Their creative activity was celebrated under the banner of “the New Negro Arts Movement.”

Rhapsodies in Black takes a fresh look at the Harlem Renaissance, contesting narrow interpretations of it as an isolated phenomenon confined to artists of color inhabiting a few square miles of Manhattan and, instead, recognizing it as a historical moment of global significance, with connections to Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and other parts of the United States, in particular Chicago and the Deep South. Like jazz musicians, the artists of the Harlem Renaissance era traveled and interacted, and their art was cosmopolitan, inspired by European modernism as well as the cultural and artistic groundswell of black America.

Two influences dominated in the art of early modernism: African art and the vitality of big city life. In Harlem, as in Paris and Berlin, artists were inspired to seek new forms and to collaborate on performances, films and publications. Rhapsodies in Black speaks across the arts, reaching out from an exploration of the painters and sculptors of the time to consider film, theater, and dance. With contributions by distinguished authors from both sides of the Atlantic, it offers a kaleidoscope of provocative readings, showing that the issues and ideas of the Harlem Renaissance still resonate today.”

The above paragraphs were taken from the back cover of the exhibition’s catalogue, which was jointly published by the Hayward Gallery, the Institute of International Visual Arts, London, and the University of California Press, Berkeley. The contributors to the substantial and well illustrated catalogue were: David A. Bailey, Richard J. Powell. Simon Callow, Andrea D. Barnwell (Andrea Barnwell Brownlee), Jeffrey C. Stewart, Paul Gilroy, Martina Attille, and Henry Louis Gates Jr.


Related items

click to show details of Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance

»  Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1997

People in this exhibition + view all 37

»  Langston Hughes

Born, 1902 in Missouri. Died, 1967

»  Edna Manley

Born, 1900 in Yorkshire, England. Died, 1987

»  Ronald Moody

Born, 1900 in Kingston, Jamaica. Died, 1984

»  James VanDerZee

Born, 1886. Died, 1983

»  James Lesesne Wells

Born, 1902. Died, 1993

Exhibition venues

»  Arnolfini

Bristol, United Kingdom

»  The Corcoran Gallery of Art

Washington D.C., United States of America

»  Hayward Gallery

London, United Kingdom

»  Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre

Coventry, United Kingdom

»  M.H. de Young Memorial Museum

San Francisco, United States of America