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Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1997
Published by: Hayward Gallery/inIVA/University of California Press
Year published: 1997
Number of pages: 182
ISBN: 1 85332 163 X

image of Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance

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.

Substantial and extensively illustrated catalogue that has become a hugely important document.

Contents as follows:
by Susan Ferleger Brades, Director of Hayward Gallery, and Roger Malbert, Senior Curator, National Touring Exhibitions, Hayward Gallery
, by David A. Bailey
Re/Birth of a Nation
, by Richard J. Powell
Voodoo Macbeth,
by Simon Callow
Like the Gypsy’s Daughter Or Beyond the Potency of Josephine Baker’s Eroticism
, by Andrea D. Barnwell (Andrea Barnwell Brownlee)
Paul Robeson and the Problem of Modernism
, by Jeffrey C. Stewart
Modern Tones,
by Paul Gilroy
, by Martina Attille
Harlem on Our Minds
, by Henry Louis Gates Jr
A Chronology of Visual Art and Culture, 1919 - 1938
List of Works


Related people + view all 37

»  Martina Attille

Born, 1959 in St Lucia

»  William H. Johnson

Born, 1901. Died, 1970

»  Ronald Moody

Born, 1900 in Kingston, Jamaica. Died, 1984

»  James VanDerZee

Born, 1886. Died, 1983

»  Carl Van Vechten

Born, 1880. Died, 1964

Related exhibitions

Related 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