Building More Stately Mansions

Artist: Aaron Douglas
Medium: oil on canvas board
Date: c. 1944

Building More Stately Mansions was a study for a larger work Douglas painted while teaching at Fisk University in Nashville, TN. It symbolizes the labor of black men and women. Their active figures are silhouetted against a utopian background, while concentric bands of muted color suggest the continuum of history and knowledge. The implied passage of time links the builders of pyramids, temples, and churches to those of modern skyscrapers and anticipates the intellectual and artistic achievements of African Americans in the future.

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