This article examines the process by which early twentieth-century European modernists and African American artists of the Harlem Renaissance negotiated the influence of traditional African sculpture. With a focus on African American painter Aaron Douglas, the author investigates how and to what end his generation of African American artists incorporated these influences. The author additionally discusses how their methods, and the conditions surrounding them, compare to the aforementioned modernists. In examining the roots of these respective trajectories, the author discovered that various people and factors –including critics, cultural and political leaders, patrons, philanthropists, artistic/aesthetic movements, colonization, commercialization, racism, and social responsibility – impacted the abilities of modernists and African American artists to embrace or reject the influence of traditional African sculpture. The author urges art teachers and studio art professors to be mindful of the power structures that inhibit their abilities to look inclusively at the complexities of traditional African sculptural influences and their potential during student critiques.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science