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Black Artists: Recommended eBooks

African American Art from Artstor

Photograph of Langston Hughes in 1947 in New York City

Langston Hughes (1902–1967)

Langston Hughes was an American poet, novelist, and playwright born in Missouri. After roaming the world as a seaman and writing some poetry as well, Hughes returned to the United States, winning the Witter Bynner Prize for undergraduate poetry while attending Lincoln University. Hughes was also an accomplished song lyricist, librettist, and newspaper columnist. 

Source: Credo Reference

Moon Masque acrylic collage by Lois Mailou Jones

Lois Mailou Jones (1905–1998)

Lois Mailou Jones achieved fame as an African American expatriate artist in Paris in the 1930s and 1940s. She incorporated influences from Africa and the Caribbean into her paintings and produced some of the first nonportrait paintings by an African American. Born in Boston, she early on displayed a passion for drawing, and her parents encouraged her interest by enrolling her in the High School of Practical Arts in Boston, where she majored in art. She died at the age of ninety-two at her home in Washington, D.C., after a seventy-year artistic career.

Source: Credo Reference

The Banjo Lesson painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937)

After attending the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, he taught at Clark University in Atlanta, supplementing his salary by working as a photographer. Some of Tanner's most compelling work—such as The Banjo Lesson [pictured] (1890)—was produced during this period, with Tanner emerging as the most promising black artist of his day. Alain Locke called Tanner the leading talent of the “journeyman period” of Black American art. In 1900 Tanner received the Medal of Honor at the Paris Exposition and the Lippincott Prize.

Source: Credo Reference

Castle Lame Duck Waltz sheet music cover by James Reese Europe

James Reese Europe (1881-1919)

James Reese Europe was ten years old when he studied violin with the U.S. Marine Band. As an adult he later moved to New York. In 1906 he organized the New Amsterdam Musical Association and in 1910 formed the Clef Club Orchestra. During World War I, Europe directed the 369th Infantry Regimental Band, which performed throughout France and was a major force in the development of jazz in that country Following his return to the United States, Europe toured the country with his band.

Source: Credo Reference

Alvin Ailey, dancer, choreographer

Alvin Ailey (1931-1989)

Alvin Ailey studied dance at Lester Horton's school in 1949. He became the artistic director for the Horton Dance Company in 1953. Later in 1958 he started his own dance troupe, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre who went on to complete a successful European tour and then in 1970 the company became the first American modern dance troupe to tour the Soviet Union. Ailey was awarded the NAACP's Spingarn Medal in 1976. 

Source: Credo Reference

Indian Combat, sculpture by Edmonia Lewis

Edmonia Lewis (1845–1907)

Edmonia Lewis was America's first black woman artist and also the first of her race and gender to be recognized as a sculptor. From 1859 to 1863, under the patronage of a number of abolitionists, she was educated at Oberlin College, the first American college to admit women into an integrated environment.  In 1865 she moved to Rome, where she soon became a prominent artist.

Source: Credo Reference