Aaron Douglas to be an african American painter and graphic artist who played a leading role in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.

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Who was Aaron Douglas?

Aaron Douglas to be an african American painter and graphic artist who played a leading role in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and also 1930s. His first major commission, to highlight Alain LeRoy Locke's book, The new Negro, prompted requests because that graphics from various other Harlem Renaissance writers. By 1939, Douglas started teaching in ~ Fisk University, whereby he stayed for the next 27 years.

Early Life

Born in Topeka, Kansas, Aaron Douglas to be a leading number in the artistic and also literary movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. He is periodically referred to together "the dad of black American art." Douglas occurred an attention in art early on on, finding some of his catalyst from his mother's love for paint watercolors.


After graduating indigenous Topeka High school in 1917, Douglas to visit the university of Nebraska, Lincoln. There, he pursued his passion for producing art, earning a Bachelor of good Arts degree in 1922. Roughly that time, he common his interest v the college student of Lincoln High school in Kansas City, Missouri. The taught there for two years, before deciding to relocate to new York City. At the time, new York's Harlem neighborhood had a flourishing arts scene.


Harlem Renaissance, Paintings and Art

Arriving in 1925, Douglas quickly came to be immersed Harlem's social life. He added illustrations come Opportunity, the nationwide Urban League's magazine, and to The Crisis, placed out by the national Association for the development Colored People. Douglas created an effective images of afri American life and also struggles and won awards because that the work he produced for these publications, eventually receiving a commission to highlight an anthology of philosopher Alain LeRoy Locke's work, licensed has been granted The new Negro.


Douglas had a unique imaginative style the fused his understanding in modernism and also African art. A college student of German-born artist Winold Reiss, he incorporated parts of art Deco along with elements that Egyptian wall paintings in his work. Countless of his figures appeared as bold silhouettes.

In 1926, Douglas married teacher Alta Sawyer, and the couple's Harlem home became a society Mecca for the likes of Langston Hughes and W.E.B. Du Bois, among other powerful African american of the early 1900s. Approximately the exact same time, Douglas functioned on a magazine through novelist Wallace Thurman to function African American art and literature. Licensed has been granted Fire!!, the magazine only published one issue.


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through his reputation for producing compelling graphics, Douglas ended up being an in-demand illustrator for many writers. Few of his most renowned illustration projects incorporate his pictures for James Weldon Johnson's poetic work, God's Trombone (1927), and Paul Morand's Black Magic (1929). In addition to his illustration work, Douglas discover educational opportunities; ~ receiving a fellowship indigenous the Barnes structure in Pennsylvania, he take it time to research African and modern art.

Douglas created some that his best-known paints in the 1930s. In 1930, he to be hired to create a mural for the library in ~ Fisk University. The following year, he spent time in Paris, wherein he studied through Charles Despiau and Othon Friesz. Ago in brand-new York, in 1933, Douglas had actually his an initial solo arts show. Shortly after, he started among his many legendary works—a collection of murals licensed has been granted "Aspects of black Life" that featured four panels, each depicting a different component of the african American experience. Every mural had a captivating mix that Douglas's influences, native jazz music come abstract and also geometric art.


Later Career

In the late 1930s, Douglas went back to Fisk University, this time as an assistant professor, and founded the school's art department. Taking his educational responsibilities rather seriously, the enrolled in ~ Columbia University's Teachers university in 1941 and also spent 3 years earning a master's level in arts education. He additionally established the Carl van Vechten gallery at Fisk and also helped secure crucial works because that its collection, including pieces through Winold Reiss and Alfred Steiglitz.

Douglas stayed committed come learning and growing as an artist, outside of his work-related in the classroom. He received a fellowship indigenous the Julius Rosenwald foundation in 1938, which sponsor his paint trip to Haiti and also several other Caribbean islands. He later on won various other grants to assistance his creative endeavors. Proceeding to produce brand-new works, Douglas had actually a number of solo exhibits over the years.

Death and also Legacy

In his later on years, Douglas received numerous honors. In 1963, the was invited by President man F. Kennedy to attend a celebration of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, hosted at the White House. He also earned an honorary doctorate from Fisk college in 1973, 7 years after his retirement native the school. He stayed an energetic painter and lecturer till the finish of his life.

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Douglas passed away at the age of 79 on February 2, 1979, in a Nashville hospital. According to part reports, he passed away of a pulmonary embolism.


A distinct memorial company was hosted for Douglas in ~ Fisk University, where he had actually taught for nearly 30 years. In ~ the service, Walter J. Leonard, the university's chairman at the time, remembered Douglas through the adhering to statement: "Aaron Douglas was one of the most achieved of the interpreters the our institutions and cultural values. He caught the strength and also quickness of the young; he interpreted the memories of the old; and also he projected the decision of the inspired and courageous."

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