Tag Archives: Aaron Douglas

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.

Harriet Tubman Mural

Artist: Aaron Douglas
Medium: Mural at Bennett College for Women, Greensboro, North Carolina
Date: c. 1931

Among Douglas’s most important works are large‐scale murals. Using a modernist language of geometric and abstract forms, he depicted slavery, emancipation, the power of education, and the contributions of African Americans to American culture and the nation’s economy. Allegorical and epic, the narratives draw on Egyptian wall painting and Ivory Coast sculpture as well as modern architecture, jazz, and dance.  Continue reading Harriet Tubman Mural

Aaron Douglas

Aaron Douglas (1898-1979) was the Harlem Renaissance artist whose work best exemplifies the New Negro Movement. Douglas was an active member of the thriving cultural milieu known as the New Negro Movement which sought to cultivate the Black American cultural experience and highlight the effects of racial injustice. Progressive at heart, he developed a distinctive painting style using silhouetted forms and fractured space to express both, the harsh struggles of African American life in 1920’s Harlem and the future hope of social progress.  Continue reading Aaron Douglas