AARON DOUGLAS, A PAINTER AND ILLUSTRATOR
Aaron was arenowned African American artist, a painter, and graphic, and was animportant figure in the Harlem Renaissance art movement in the 1920sand 1930s. He was born on May 25, 1899, to Aaron and ElizabethDouglas in Topeka Kansas, United States of America. Douglas went toTopeka high school from which he graduated in the year 1917 and thenjoined University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He had desire for art andpursued it by creating art and sharing it with his fellow students.Douglas graduated from University of Nebraska earning himselfBachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1922. While at school, Douglas didnot hesitate to share his interest and artistic ideas with theschoolmates and friends. He shared his art and knowledge with LincolnHigh School students in Kansas City where he taught for a period of 2years and then moved to New York City.
He settled inHarlem while in New York, 1925. The neighborhood was characterized bya sprouting art scene. Douglas coped and loved the cultural life inHarlem. He met, Winold Reiss, the German-born artist, whom theystudied and worked with together receiving numerous commissions forillustrations of magazines. The first highest commission that hereceived was to illustrate The New Negro (1925), (Alain Locke’sbook). There were other illustrations that he made his contribution.Just to name a few, they include the National Association ofAdvancement Colored People’s magazine, The crisis, and NationalUrban League’s magazine, Opportunity. The commissions that Douglasreceived prompted him to request graphics from other writers andartist in Harlem Renaissance such as James Weldon Johnson, CharlesJohnson, Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen.
Douglas was knownfor his powerful and creative images of African American culture andthe struggles that made him won awards especially for the task heperformed in the publications he illustrated. The artistic style thatDouglas used was unique that incorporated modern life and Africanart. With the help of the German-born student, Winold Reiss, he wasable to include parts of Art Deco and the Egyptian wall paintingartistic style in his work. This attracted the attention of manypeople interest in fine art as well as other field such as music. Hegained remarkable reputation due to his compelling graphics and wasin high demand for many writers. The image in God’s Trombome(1927), James Weldon Johnson’s poetic book, was his art. He wasready for illustration of several writers especially in the HarlemRenaissance, and this played a crucial role in the growth of this artmovement. The art movement was mainly composed of African American.Douglas employed rhythm of circles, wavy lines and diagonals in mostof his artistic styles and illustrations. People referred him as the“father of African American arts”.
He was married toAlta Sawyer, who was a teacher. Their home was always full ofvisitors and became social home for various African American artistsand writers such as Langston, Du Bois, Duke Ellington, BillieHoliday, Frolence Mills, Marcus Garvey and others from HarlemRenaissance art movement of the early 1920s and 1930. The artwork ofDouglas made an important contribution music especially Jazz,abstract and graphics.
Aaron douglas,1899-1979, Harlem Renaissance, Hariet Tubman (1930), DanceMagic (1931), Power Plant Harlem,
Aaron Douglas, retrieved fromhttp://www.biography.com/people/aaron-douglas-39794on 24 October 2015
Gates, H. L., Higginbotham, E. B., & American Council of LearnedSocieties. (2009).Harlem Renaissance lives from the AfricanAmerican national biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kirschke, A. H. (1995). Aaron Douglas: Art, race, and theHarlem renaissance. Jackson, Miss: Univ. Press of Mississippi.
The Harlem Renaissance, retrieved fromhttp://historyoftheharlemrenaissance.weebly.com/artists.htmlon 24 October 2015