Metropolitan Museum of Art Features Harlem Renaissance Era

Bringing together a diverse 160 pieces made by Black artists from the 1920s to 1940s, The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) casts a light on the Harlem Renaissance movement and how we look at it several decade later. It’s one of those exhibitions that’s long overdue, showing how a group of Black creators tell their own stories and the stories of those around them, a snapshot of Black life in early 20th century America told from within.

The story is, of course, complicated. According to a review of the show by the New York Times, “The Harlem Renaissance wasn’t a “thing” in the sense of being a structured movement . . . Nor was it only in Harlem, or even New York City. Many of the artists closely associated with it lived and worked elsewhere — Chicago, Philadelphia, Paris. Finally, it wasn’t strictly, or even chiefly, a visual art phenomenon.”

It also makes a compelling case for including at least some of these artists in the narrative of the modernist movement, talking about them alongside Egon Schiele, Georgia O’Keefe, Pablo Picasso, and others. The show is on display through July 28 and demonstrates how much more well-known artists, including Henri Matisse, were influenced by the aesthetics of Harlem.

Also at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Another intriguing exhibition at the Met, Indian Skies: The Howard Hodgkin Collection of Indian Court Painting is a series of over 120 Indian paintings and drawings collected by British artist Howard Hodgkin. The collection is recognized as among the finest of its kind ever assembled. Hodgkin collected works from the Mughal, Deccani, Rajput, and Pahari courts dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Many of the works were recently acquired by The Met. So, one can hope they’ll be on a rotating display long after this show is over on June 9.

Local Tip

Before or after The Met, stop by everyone’s favorite UES casual joint, Nectar Cafe. Grab coffee and an omelet, burger deluxe, or cobb salad. It’s kind of like a traditional Greek diner—but more expensive. 

Story by Stephen Treffinger

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