African-American art at the CMA

Reflect on the great contributions to art by or about African-Americans during Black History Month with a visit to CMA where you can see the works of three such notable artists:

Augusta Savage’s Gamin

Savage (1892 - 1962) was the most acclaimed sculptor working during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and ‘30s, and Gamin is her most famous work. It was long thought that the image was a generic figure; however, recent research reveals that it depicts her nephew. The warm characterization likely arises from the close bond shared between artist and model. Although several small versions of the sculpture were produced, this life-size, hand-painted plaster is unique, and likely the oldest surviving example of the subject.

Carl Frederick Gaetner’s The Pie Wagon

One of the most widely exhibited artists working in Cleveland, Gaertner (1898 - 1952) specialized in painting the city and its environs. His favored subjects include scenes of Cleveland’s industrial heyday, including The Pie Wagon. In this painting, the artist focused attention on the laborers who spend their lunch break milling around a horse-drawn bakery wagon in the shadows of the hulking factories.

Jacob Lawrence’s Fulton and Nostrand

Having moved to Harlem as a teenager, Lawrence (1917-2000) would become the first major artist trained entirely within the neighborhood’s African-American community. Throughout his long career he believed art should be a quest for both self and social identity, a notion reflected in this work, one of his liveliest and largest paintings. Teeming with more than forty figures, it depicts the vibrant streetscape at the intersection of Fulton Street (now Harriet Tubman Avenue) and Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, near where the artist lived at the time.


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