Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Color Line - Part 2

Last week, I presented a detailed overview of the Musée du quai Branly's exhibition, The Color Line.

Today, I'm featuring the women artists whose work is shown there.

They are:
  • Elizabeth Catlett
  • Barbara Chase-Riboud
  • Loïs Mailou Jones
  • Edmonia Lewis
  • Faith Ringgold
  • Betty Saar
  • Augusta Savage
  • Alma Thomas
  • Mickaline Thomas

Elizabeth Catlett has the greatest number of pieces in the show - 16 linocuts and two sculptures. Her 15-piece linocut series entitled I am the Negro Woman and her bronze sculpture entitled Woman Walking (Standing Woman) can be found in a dedicated room.

I am the Negro Woman series
Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012)
1947 Linocut on paper
© Discover Paris!

Woman Walking (Standing Woman)
Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012)
1987 Bronze
© Discover Paris!

These works are on loan from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, PA.

Three sculptors – Edmonia Lewis, Augusta Savage, and Barbara Chase-Riboud – have works represented in the exhibition in various ways.

Edmonia Lewis' magnificent marble creation, Forever Free, is shown in a short, silent video clip from a television documentary entitled Noire est la Couleur (Black is the Color) that was produced by Arté France, Les Films d'Ici, and Bachibouzouk to coincide with the exhibition's run.

Frame of Forever Free segment of Noire est la Couleur
Sculpture by Edmonia Lewis (1844-1907)
1867 Marble
Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
© Discover Paris!

A small bronze reproduction of Augusta Savage's monumental sculpture Lift Every Voice and Sing (The Harp) can be seen, but not photographed, at the exhibition. Nearby are images from the April 1939 edition of The Crisis magazine that show Savage creating the sculpture and the work itself on the cover.

Image of Augusta Savage (1892-1962) working on The Harp
The Crisis - April 1939
Photo © Discover Paris!

Image of The Harp
Cover of The Crisis - April 1939
Photo © Discover Paris!

Savage created Lift Every Voice and Sing (The Harp) in plaster for the 1939 World's Fair in New York. It was destroyed after the fair closed.

Barbara Chase-Riboud's Malcolm X #13 stands regally in the "Black is Beautiful: Black Power, Black Muslims, Black Panthers" section of the exhibition.

Malcolm X #13
Barbara Chase-Riboud (1939-)
2008 Black bronze, silk, wool, linen, and synthetic fibers
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York
© Discover Paris!

Elizabeth Catlett's sculpture, Homage to Black Women Poets, her linocut entitled Malcolm X Speaks for Us, and Betty Saar's mixed media work, Equality, are also found in this section.

Faith Ringgold, Alma Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, and Loïs Mailou Jones each have a single painting in the exhibition. I found Jones' Mob Victim (Meditation) to be the most compelling. You will find it in the "Lynching" section of the exhibition.

Mob Victim (Meditation)
Loïs Mailou Jones (1905-1998)
1944 Oil on canvas
Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans, LA
© Discover Paris!

A 2010 article in the Washington Post gives a bit of background on this work, which was selected as one of the four to be included in The Color Line's "Please Do Touch" section for visually-impaired visitors.

The paintings by Alma Thomas (March on Washington), Faith Ringgold (The American Collection #1: We Came to America), and Mickalene Thomas (Origin of the Universe I), as well as the mixed media work entitled Black Crows in the White Section Only by Betty Saar are located in the "On the Way to "Civil Rights" and "Contemporaries and African-Americans" sections.

Fewer than 30 days remain to visit this exhibition - it closes on January 15, 2017. If you're in Paris, get over to the Musée du quai Branly and see it!

The Color Line

Musée du quai Branly Jacques Chirac
37, quai Branly
75007 Paris
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday - 11 AM to 7 PM; Thursday through Saturday - 11 AM to 9 PM. Closed Mondays.
Entry fee: 10€
Reduced fee: 7€


Entrée to Black Paris™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Color Line - Part 1

The Color Line is the largest of the three exhibitions that I wrote about in my article on the display of works by African-American masters in Paris this fall and winter.

Musée du quai Branly entrance
© Discover Paris!

Simply put, it is a must-see!

When you think about it, the title of the exhibition - The Color Line: African-American Artists and Segregation - is vague. It could lead you to believe that artists are the focus of the show and that their personal experiences with segregation are featured - though not necessarily through art. It could signify that the show is comprised solely of works by African-American artists that represent various forms of segregation. It could indicate a combination of the two.

In fact, the exhibition is much broader than the possibilities mentioned above. It is not an art exhibition in the purest sense of the word. Rather, it is an exhibition about U.S. history in which an inordinate number of works of fine art are hung.

I attended the vernissage (opening) for The Color Line on October 3. When I left, I knew that it was impossible to grasp the depth of this exhibition in 1-2 hours. So I returned on November 30 and spent the majority of the day soaking in the content and experiencing the emotions that it stirred up in me.

The show is divided into fourteen sections:

  • Free, but Black . . . Reconstruction
  • Minstrels, Blackfaces, and Vaudevilles
  • First Battles against Segregation
  • W.E.B. Du Bois at the 1900 Paris Exposition
  • Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and Other Sports Champions
  • The Great War 1914-1948
  • Harlem Renaissance: The "New Negro"
  • A "Separate" Cinema
  • Strange Fruit: The Legacy of the Lynchings
  • After the Great Migration, The World War
  • Harlem on Their Minds
  • On the Way to "Civil Rights"
  • Black is Beautiful: Black Power, Black Muslims, Black Panthers
  • Contemporaries and African-Americans

There is an additional section created for the visually impaired called "Please Do Touch!" where four works by artists featured in the exhibition are displayed flat and in relief. They are at waist height and are accompanied by audio recordings in French and English as well as a written description of the work in braille.

The Banjo Lesson - Henry Ossawa Tanner
Display for the visually impaired
© Discover Paris!

In addition to numerous paintings, drawings, and sculptures, the exhibition contains reproductions of historic documents;

Signatures on the 13th amendment
© Discover Paris!

videos ranging from 2- to 3-minute informational clips to full length films with "all-colored" casts;

Bert Williams in "A Natural Born Gambler"
© Discover Paris!

vintage photographs and fliers;

The Black Patti - Miss Sissieretta Jones
© Discover Paris!

books (the content for some of them is displayed in slide shows);

12 Million Black Voices - Richard Wright
© Discover Paris!

magazine and album covers;

Black Panther Community News - covers
© Discover Paris!

and an art installation.

Autour du Monde
2008 Whitfield Lovell
© Discover Paris!

The art is simply splendid. Pieces date from the 19th century to the present day.

Most of the paintings and sculptures are representational.

The Young Sabot Maker
Henry Ossawa Tanner
1895 Oil on canvas
© Discover Paris!

Tongues (Holy Rollers)
Archibald J. Motley, Jr.
1929 Oil on canvas
© Discover Paris!

Richmond Barthé
1942 Bronze
© Discover Paris!

I was especially pleased to see a room dedicated to over 25 drawings by Albert Alexander Smith that depict the everyday life of soldiers during World War I

Room displaying drawings by Albert Alexander Smith
© Discover Paris!

as well as several comic drawings by Oliver Harrington, accompanied by comments that illustrate his dry wit.

"Practice Makes Perfect"
Oliver Harrington
© Discover Paris!

Paintings by Norman Lewis and Beauford Delaney contributed to the minority of abstract works in the exhibition.

Norman Lewis
1968 Oil on canvas
© Discover Paris!

Works by several women artists are presented in The Color Line. I'll talk about them in Part 2 of this post.


Entrée to Black Paris™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

1930s American Art at the Musée de l'Orangerie

I saw America after the Fall: Paintings from the 1930s at the Musée de l'Orangerie last Sunday. As I explained in a recent blog post, this show is one of three that displays the works of African-American masters in Paris this winter.

America after the Fall
Title Panel

Taking photographs was strictly forbidden inside the exhibition, so I am unable to show you images of the crowd that gathered well before noon to see this show. Though abstract art is represented, the majority of the works are figurative; themes range from farm life to the anxieties that preceded the U.S.'s involvement in World War II. Styles run the gamut - you'll see Social realism, Regionalism, Surrealism, and other schools of art here.

A couple of video loops provided contrasting perspectives on 1930s America - one featured clips from newsreels about soup kitchens, the inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and worker protest marches and the other focused on the burgeoning film industry that brought us Gone with the Wind, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Wizard of Oz.

The online photos of William H. Johnson's Street Life, Harlem do not do the painting justice. It is richly textured, so much so that I had a strong impulse to reach out and rub my fingers over the cheeks of the man and woman who are front and center in the painting as well as trace the sills of the windows and the edges of the moon.

Street Life, Harlem (detail)
William H. Johnson
ca. 1939-1940 Oil on plywood
Smithsonian American Art Museum

You'll find it in the section called La ville spectacle (City Life).

Aspiration by Aaron Douglas can be found in the section called L’histoire revisitée (History Revisited). It is large enough to warrant being displayed on a wall of its own.

Other works in the exhibition portray people of African descent in a variety of settings. (The following list is not all-inclusive.)

Thomas Hart Benton's Cotton Pickers presents a rural scene where black sharecroppers are harvesting cotton. It is the last of series of paintings and drawings that he did on this topic.

Cotton Pickers (detail)
Thomas Hart Benton
1945 Oil on canvas
Art Institute of Chicago

Joe Jones' Roustabouts depicts dockworkers hauling loads as a white man - presumably their boss - surveys the scene.

Roustabouts (detail)
Joe Jones
1934 Oil on canvas
Worcester Art Museum

Both are hung in the section called Contrastes américains : puissance industrielle et retour à la terre (American Contrasts: Industrial Power and Return to the Earth).

Jones' painting, American Justice, places lynching front and center for viewers to contemplate. A woman is the victim of a Klan mob in this work.

American Justice (detail)
Joe Jones
1933 Oil on canvas
Art Institute of Chicago

This is hung in the section called Cauchemars et réalité (Nightmares and Reality).

Several of the artists whose works are displayed in America after the Fall, including Aaron Douglas and William H. Johnson, studied in Paris.

AMERICA AFTER THE FALL: PAINTINGS FROM THE 1930s (October 12, 2016 to January 30, 2017)
Musée de l'Orangerie
Jardin des Tuileries
Place de la Concorde
Hours: Wednesday through Monday - 9 AM to 6 PM. Closed Tuesdays.
Entry fee: 9€
Reduced fee: 6,50€
Free entry on the first Sunday of the month
Free entry for persons less than 26 years of age


Entrée to Black Paris™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Black Women in Europe™: Power List 2010-2016

Black Women in Europe™ celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.

Black Women in Europe™ 10th Anniversary Banner

I first wrote about the organization in December 2010, after they published their first Power List.

Screenshot - Power List 2010

I am honored to have been selected for the Black Power List 2016 under the Culture category

Screenshot - Power List 2016

because of my passion for and pursuit of information and activities centered on the African Diaspora in Paris.

At the beginning of the list, founder Adrianne George indicates:

This list ... is intended to acknowledge powerful black women in Europe and to inspire others to reach their full potential.

The Power List does not aim to assess rank but rather to showcase influential women who, in some cases well known and in others, are women who should be known.

Today, I want to name all the women from / living in France who have been included on the list since its inception, as well as the categories for which they were selected:

Aïssa Maïga - Lifestyle
Audrey Pulvar - Media
Christiane Taubira - Politics
Euzhan Palcy - Lifestyle
George Pau-Langevin - Politics
Hapsatou Sy - Business & Entrepreneurship
Huguette Fatna - Politics
Inna Modja - Lifestyle
Marie Ndiaye - Lifestyle
Maryse Conde - Literature
Rama Yade - Politics
Rokhaya Diallo - Social Activism
Rose Dieng-Kuntz - Science
Rougia Dia - Lifestyle
Safia Otokoré - Politics
Sandrine Joseph - Business

To view slide shows of all seven Power Lists, click HERE.


Entrée to Black Paris™ is a Discover Paris! blog.