Black Artists: Aaron Douglas

Shout out to Ms. B for this, because I learned about Aaron Douglas in Intro to the Black Experience. I really love his artwork. This piece is called: Building More Stately Pavilions, not to be confused with Building More Stately Mansions, 1944, which is a smaller variant of this piece. (I just found this out myself as I realized two different pieces has the same name, but the differences were very small.)

“The smaller painting, however, stands on its own as a finished work. Not merely a copy, this smaller version has important differences that gives valuable insight into the creative process of the artist. Douglas has given the figures in many cases different tools or implements to carry. In the larger work, Douglas added the diagonal crane or scaffolding across the upper right corner, a compositional device. These changes and additions show the artist’s choices as he moves to a larger scale”

Douglas’s unique Modernist style emerged during intense engagement with other African-American artists, writers, and musicians whom he encountered when he moved to Harlem in 1925. His work celebrated the intellectual and artistic achievements of Africans and African-Americans, which were brought to life by Douglas in an impressive series of mural commissions. Building More Stately Mansions symbolizes the labor of black men and women in the creation of great architectural monuments, silhouetting their active figures against a utopian background. Concentric bands of muted color suggest waves of history and knowledge, linking the builders of pyramids, temples, and churches to the skyscrapers of the present and anticipating future achievements.