African American Artists

The African American Art is the result of the creative instincts of the African American people, who were mainly the African slaves transported from West and Central Africa. The majority of the earliest African American artists were the slave artisans working as potters, blacksmiths, cabinetmakers, quilters, basket makers and silversmiths.

With the development of the traditional African American Art, the number of African American artists began to grow. The artworks of the early traditional African American artists had the influences of the culture & traditions of Africa, Europe and Americas. Some of the notable early African American artists from the period of 1773–1887 include G.W. Hobbs, William Simpson, Robert M. Douglas Jr., Patrick Henry Reason, Joshua Johnson, and Scipio Moorhead.

The African American Art started flourishing during the post civil war era that witnessed the remarkable growth in the population of the African American artists. The African American artists started creating works for museums and exhibitions. Edward Mitchell Bannister, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Edmonia Lewis, Grafton Tyler Brown, Nelson A. Primus, and Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller were some of the prominent African American artists of the post civil war era.

During the 1920s, The Harlem Renaissance, also known as the Black Literary Renaissance and New Negro Renaissance, was the most notable movement in the African American art. Flowering of African American literature, art, and drama, the Harlem Renaissance resulted in the growth of the African American artistic communities. Some of the notable African American artists of this period were Richmond Barthé, Aaron Douglas, Palmer Hayden, William H. Johnson, Sargent Johnson, Malvin Gray Johnson, Archibald Motley, Augusta Savage, Hale Woodruff, and photographer James Van Der Zee.

In 1922, the Harmon Foundation was set up by art patron William E. Harmon to promote African American artists. The Foundation continued promoting African American artists by organizing exhibitions and offering financial aids. In 1933, The U.S. Treasury Department's Public Works of Art Project made ineffective attempt to promote African American artists. President Roosevelt in 1935 created the Works Progress Administration (WPA) that was very helpful to all American artists, particularly African American artists.

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