Study for Aspects of Negro Life: The Negro in an African Setting

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Aaron Douglas
American, 1899-1979

Study for Aspects of Negro Life: The Negro in an African Setting, 1934

Gouache, with touches of graphite, on illustration board
372 x 406 mm
Solomon Byron Smith and Margaret Fisher funds, 1990.416

Aaron Douglas, an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance, made this finished study for the first of five murals intended for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library. The murals depict the history of African Americans, from their origins in Africa to life in America in the 1930s. Through his use of Egyptian profiles and elements of African art, Douglas utilized a hybrid Western-African aesthetic also seen in works by artists like Pablo Picasso.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

The Art Institute of Chicago, "New Acquisitions: Early American Modernist Painting," June 25-November 25, 1990, no cat.

The Art Institute of Chicago, "A Century of Collecting: African American Art in The Art Institute of Chicago," February 15-May 18, 2003, no cat.

Spencer Museum of Art, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS: "Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist," to be shown at the Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS, from September 8-December 2, 2007.

Publication History

Amy M. Mooney, “Representing Race: Disjunctures in the Work of Archibald J. Motley, Jr.,” The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 24: 2 (1999), p. 172.

Andrea D. Barnwell and Kirsten P. Buick, “A Portfolio of Works by African American Artists Continuing the Dialogue: A Work in Progress,” The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 24: 2 (1999), pp. 186, 192-93, cat. 4.

Cherise Smith, “Fragmented Documents Works by Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, and Willie Robert Middlebrook at The Art Institute of Chicago,” The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 24:2 (1999), p. 248.

Susan Earle et al, “Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist,” The Spencer Museum of Art, The University of Kansas, Lawrence 2007, p 164, pl. 67Judith A. Barter et al., "American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat.

Ownership History

Sold by Galerie Americana, Chicago, to the Art Institute, 1990.