Friday, February 1, 2008
In the Name of Love
To mark the New Year, January’s Art Poll By Bob asked “Which of the following years in art do you consider your favorite?” and you answered, leading to the first tie in poll history: with both 1541 (Michelangelo completes The Last Judgment and his work on The Sistine Chapel; El Greco born) and 1863 (Manet exhibits The Luncheon on the Grass at the Salon des Refuses and paints Olympia, ushering in the age of Impressionism; Edvard Munch born) getting 13 votes. 1793 (The Louvre opens in Paris, beginning the phenomenon of the public art museum) came in second with 9 votes, followed by 1949 (LIFE Magazine asks if Jackson Pollock is “America’s Greatest Painter”; Abstract Expressionism takes hold; New York becomes the art capital of the world) with 8 and 1889 (Van Gogh paints his Sunflowers; The Eiffel Tower opens as part of the transformation of Paris) with 7. Amazingly, the usually popular Van Gogh came in dead last this time.
The longer that poll ran, the more great years came to mind, as I’m sure they came to yours.
For February, to celebrate Black History Month in the United States, I decided to ask, “Which of the following African-American artists is your favorite?” :
William H. Johnson
Henry Ossawa Tanner
There are so many great, yet unrecognized African-American artists that this list just scratches the surface. I wish I could have added Aaron McGruder, whose manga-inspired, politically incorrect comic The Boondocks (above) never failed to make me laugh and think. I only listed those artists that I know well, so please add in comments any names you think should be included and why. This entire blog is a learning experience for me (and I hope in some small way for my readers), so I look at this poll and this month as an opportunity to learn more about the contributions of African-Americans to the world of art. From pioneers such as Tanner to modern artists such as Walker and Wiley, they have left their mark on American and world art, regardless of how much we realize it.
If you find that none of these names are familiar, take a moment to click through and learn more about these artists and the meaning behind their lives and work. I’m sure you’ll find a favorite in no time.