Jazz Roots: Painting the Jazz Scene
|Aspects of Negro Life: Song of the Towers, 1934
Aaron Douglas (1899-1979)
Born in Topeka, Kansas in 1899, Aaron Douglas launched his artistic career in New York City, during the height of the Harlem Renaissance. Under the tutelage of German artist Winold Reiss, Douglas began to introduce African motifs into his paintings as a celebration of racial heritage. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Douglas'art was commonly featured on the covers of Opportunity and Crisis magazines and in the publications of noted Harlem writers Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson, and Wallace Thurman.
Douglas is perhaps best known for Aspects of Negro Life , a series of four murals completed under the sponsorship of the Works Progress Adminstration in 1934. The murals trace the history of African Americans from Africa through their migration to America's northern cities. In Aspects of Negro Life: Song of the Towers, Douglas presents jazz iconically in the figure of the saxophone player. The musician is an emblem of the intersections of African heritage, African American culture, and national identity.
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