Item #7821 MacLeish, Norman. Exhibition of Negro Artists of Chicago [Caption title].
MacLeish, Norman. Exhibition of Negro Artists of Chicago [Caption title].

MacLeish, Norman. Exhibition of Negro Artists of Chicago [Caption title].

Washington DC: Howard Univesrity Gallery of Art, 1941. 11” x 8”. Bifolium, printed all four sides. Pp. [4]. Good due to faint dampstain spreading diagonally across all four pages.

This is a lovely announcement for an African American art exhibition that also served to commemorate the life of an important Black painter and art instructor in Chicago, George Neal.

The announcement listed the entire catalog of the exhibition, which included 21 oil paintings, 15 watercolors and seven works of sculpture by a veritable who's who of African American artists at the time. There were works on display by Henry Avery, William Carter, Charles White, Marion Perkins, and Bernard and Margaret Goss, among others. The brochure included a page of narrative by Norman MacLeish, a painter best known for his direction of the WPA art program in Chicago during the 1930s. MacLeish wrote here of the influx of African Americans into Chicago's South Side during World War I, and how out of “Chicago's most urgent housing problem” grew “one of the most significant and hopeful movements in American art.” The text focused on George Neal, the first African American instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago, who gave free lessons to promising young Black painters. Neal had recently died, and a fire had destroyed most of his paintings, but this exhibition had managed to acquire two of his works from members of the Chicago community. MacLeish also thanked the Illinois Art Project and the South Side Art Center for their work in continuing Neal's legacy and “teaching Negro artists of the future.”

The announcement also has an acknowledgment by the exhibition's curator, Alonzo J. Aden, who shared that the event was planned in observance of National Negro History Week, as well as to honor the 75th anniversary of the passage of the 13th amendment. Two years later, Aden went on to found the Barnett Aden Gallery, the first privately owned Black gallery in the United States, with his former professor, James Herring, in the home they shared. The brochure also has images of three of the works on display, including a painting by George Neal.

Interestingly, Eleanor Roosevelt visited the exhibition, and her review was printed in newspapers across the nation. She extolled the efforts of Neal, “the inspiration of many other painters. He gathered them around him and taught them. They painted in spite of poverty, living in attics and practically starving while they worked.” She also lauded the art: “One little ceramic by Edward T. Collier is the loveliest shade of green I have ever seen, and one or two of Joseph A. Kersey's sculptures are extremely interesting. I am always fond of watercolors and would have liked to walk away with some that were on exhibition.”

A rare announcement celebrating important African American artists and their work. OCLC locates one holding. Good. Item #7821

Price: $500.00

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