Posts Tagged ‘african american artist’

Artist of the moment…..Lois Mailou Jones….

Price range information: The artist worked in many mediums including watercolor $3,000 to $10,000. Oils range from $5,000 to $25,000.

The artist has sold work to President Bill Clinton and wife Hillary.

Lois Mailou Jones was a fantastic African American painter and one of few women of color to succeed as an artist during this time.  Jones was born in Boston, Massachusetts in the year 1905.  Her father was among the first persons of color to obtain a law degree from college.

They are several artists who work in capturing at some level the African American lifestyle. I have profiled many including Dean Mitchell, Mary Whyte,  Mario Robinson, and Stephen Scott Young. However, Lois Mailou Jones was painting African American themes and capturing their life when no one hardly any artists painted people of color.

One inspirational artist and mentor for Jones was the African American artist Meta Vaux Fuller. Fuller was among the first artist to capture the life of African Americans in sculpture. Born in 1877 she attended college and was a factor in the Harlem Renaissance. Below is an example of Meta Vaux Fuller’s sculpture work.


In this clip an interview with Lois Jones when she appeared on CBS television.

A great montage of works by the artist.

Another mentor for the artist was the American painter Celine Tabary. Tabary enjoyed painting landscapes with an emphasis on color. Below is an example of Tabary’s work.


Was married to a well known artist coming from Haiti named Louis Pierre-Noel. Pierre-Noel was born in Haiti and educated at Columbia University in the U.S. He designed postage stamps for Haiti, below is an example of his style.


Jones  took advantage of a grant to study abroad in Paris, France in 1937. The artist fell in love with the country and culture. There was seen as a great talent, not a person who skin was too dark to appear in galleries. It was here that she enjoyed freedoms she couldn’t embrace in her home country like eating and drinking where she wanted to.  Jones experienced tremendous success with art and was diverse painting landscapes, portraits, and still lifes.

Lois Mailou Jones also did a fair amount of time painting and depicting the landscape of Haiti. She enjoyed the colors of the region.

She passed away in 1998 at the age of 92 years old.

Artist of the moment….Kerry James Marshall…..

Kerry James Marshall is a well known artist who is known for his paintings of people and the effects of racism. He was born in 1955 in Birmingham, Alabama.

In this clip Marshall talks about growing up in many locales across the United States where race became the number one topic on peoples minds. His family lived in Birmingham, Alabama and he grew up there as a youngster. Then the family moved to Watts, one of the toughest places to live in Los Angeles, known for drugs and gangs. Then the family moved to South Central Los Angeles. The Black Rights movement and Civil Rights movement both had an long lasting effect on the artist towards his views on racism.

For his collegiate education the artist attended the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Whilst in college Marshall was able to study under the great African-American printmaker Charles White. Below is a great example of Charles White’s  signature style. White was also briefly married to Elizabeth Catlett, the great American born artist who moved to Mexico and became famous for her ability to use art to help change people’s lifes for the better. White was known for several WPA era paintings.


Marshall now lives and works out of Chicago, Illinois.

The artist is very innovative and enjoys painting on unique surfaces such as plexiglass.

Marshall has won the MacArthur genius grant taking the prize in 1997.

In this clip the artist talks about wanting to portray people of color in fine art. It is far more common in modern times that we have many celebrated African American artists such as Mario Robinson, Dean Mitchell, Kehinde Wiley, the Saar family, and Samella Sanders Lewis. Marshall seems to think every people of color were seen as only periphery of the paintings, not the focus.

He is married to the actress Cheryl Lynn Bruce. Bruce has appeared in the television show as “Prison Break.”

For his portrayal of African Americans the artist works with characters that seem to be out of stereotypes that took place during the Jim Crow laws era. He painted people as black similar to coal, rather than shades of darkness. In this manner the artist reminds of Kara Walker. Walker is the famed artist who portrays usually on the silhouette of the people she portrays. Many times Walker plays with feelings of hate and racism that took place in the 1800s. With her samed silhouette style the artist seems to say like Marshall you are either black as coal, or you are not with no middle ground. Below is a wonderful example of Kara Walker’s art and I have written about the artist before.


Also like Kara Walker the artist has even portrayed the transportation of slaves to America in works from the 1990s. He forces to confront their feelings, for the most part negative, about being a person of color in the United States. He even has done paintings questioning if the media finds women of color as desirable as other women.

The theme that I enjoy most about Marshall’s work is his ability for him to accurately portray the amount of style involved in everything that goes with being a person of color. As Marshall says an black person doesn’t walk, you learn to walk with style. EVERYTHING becomes a statement of style and culture and Marshall does a wonderful job portraying that in his artwork.


Artist of the moment….Augusta Savage…


The artist was one of few women of color who pursued knowledge of the arts.  Very similar to Elizabeth Catlett and Samella Sanders Lewis who both blazed new paths for future artists by studying the arts in college.

Augusta Savage was born on Leap Day, which is February 29th in a year with 366 days included, in the year 1862.  The artist was born Augusta Christine Fells and was the seventh child of fourteen.

The artist was a large figure in the Harlem Renaissance movement. She worked tirelessly for equal rights for people of color that worked in the art industry.

A great clip showing a live movie with Augusta Savage working on a sculpture.  The piece is accompanied by some piano jazz. I enjoy seeing the artist’s at work doing their own unique processes which they have honed over the years. She first sculpts an animal piece than a young African- American boy.

A great clip showing the artist at work. In addition to Savage you can other leaders of the Harlem Renaissance such as Richmond Barthe, Aaron Douglas, and Palmer Hayden. The part with Augusta Savage begins 11:40 into the clip.

The artist’s father was a minister and didn’t want his daughter to be involved in the arts. As a child she used clay to sculpt animals. When her father found the artworks he scolded and beat her. Years later when she was in high school she sculpted the Virgin Mary. Immediately her father saw the beauty in her work and he was ashamed for having thought sculpting was a sinful practice.

The artist was married twice but both marriages ended after a few years time.

The artist gets married but her husband dies a few years later. The artist gives sculpting all her attention. She moves to New York and meets the Founder of the American School of Sculpting,  Mr. Solon Borglum.  He enjoys her work and gets the artist an interview with Cooper College. The artist is accepted straight away!

She went to college for two years finishing in 1923. By the late twenties she was teaching art in her own studio in Harlem.  She won an award to study in Rome, but the award covered tuition and not travel. The artist was unable to attend.

Soon after she won another award to study in France and this time she received help from her friends and family. She visited the ancient buildings that can be found in France, Belgium, and Germany.

Augusta Savage won a prestigious award for her sculpture titled ” Gamin,” featuring a young African- American boy. Gamin is on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.

The artist was a chief proponent of teaching art in Harlem. Her free art classes were so successful she decided to run her own school. She got grants from the Works Project Administration and started the school in 1937. Eleanor Roosevelt showed up for the opening day. The artist had become more of a teacher due to lack of an economy due to the Great Depression. She had returend from Europe in 1931.

She did a few public commissions and opened two galleries that couldn’t handle the tough economy. The artist ended up living on a farm in New York state the remainder of her life.

She worked in materials she could afford. Rarely did the artist use bronze, instead she used clay or plastic.

Augusta Savage passed away in 1962.

I enjoy this artist because of the constant struggles she had just to get by, yet she was able to still be a productive artist.  I think if she was an artist in the present she might garner as much acclaim as Kara Walker. Savage was adept at capturing the character of the human face in clay.

I have never tried a clay piece, but am eager to do so now!

A book out about the artist is out titled IN HER HANDS. The cost is $10 with shipping for a used version on

high price range:  Plaster version of Gamin for $40,800.

low price range: $10,000