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Self-Portrait

Title
Aaron Douglas
Artist
Aaron Douglas, 26 May 1899 - 2 Feb 1979
Sitter
Aaron Douglas, 26 May 1899 - 2 Feb 1979
Date
1925
Type
Drawing
Medium
Red Conte crayon on paper
Dimensions
Sight: 31.8 × 23.2 cm (12 1/2 × 9 1/8")
Frame: 52.5 × 44 cm (20 11/16 × 17 5/16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Abraham and Virginia Weiss Charitable Trust, Amy and Marc Meadows, in honor of Wendy Wick Reaves
Restrictions & Rights
© Heirs of Aaron Douglas/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Object number
NPG.2017.73
Culture
Aaron Douglas: American\African American
Exhibition Label
Aaron Douglas was one of the leading figures in the flowering of modernist African American culture in the early twentieth century. This 1925 self-portrait attests to the remarkable skill and draftsmanship, not to mention self-possession, of the young artist months after he had left his position teaching high school art in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved to Harlem, New York. Using red Conte crayon and exercising restraint to create highlights on the cheeks, chin, and forehead, Douglas depicts himself as a sensitive, sentient black man. During the Harlem Renaissance, when this work was made, many young African Americans were exploring their identities, their roots, and their place in the world. Douglas depicts himself just as his self- consciousness and his political yearnings were being stirred. At the time, he had begun creating illustra- tions for the Urban League’s journal, Opportunity, as well as for the landmark manifesto of the Harlem Renaissance, Alain Locke’s The New Negro (1925).
Aaron Douglas fue una de las figuras principales en el florecimiento de la cultura afroamericana modernista a principios del siglo XX. Este autorre- trato suyo de 1925 manifiesta no solo la extraor- dinaria destreza y técnica de dibujo de este joven artista, sino también su seguridad en sí mismo, habiendo abandonado meses antes su puesto de maestro de arte en una escuela secundaria de Kansas City, Misuri, para irse a Harlem, Nueva York. Empleando crayón Conté rojo, con discretos toques de luz en las mejillas, la barbilla y la frente, Douglas se representa aquí como un afroamericano sensible y lúcido. Esta obra se realizó durante el auge del arte afroamericano llamado Harlem Renaissance, cuando muchos jóvenes negros estaban explorando su iden- tidad, sus raíces y su lugar en el mundo. Douglas plasmó su imagen justo cuando se despertaba su conciencia personal y política. Había empezado a crear ilustraciones para la revista Opportunity de la Urban League y para el manifiesto emblemático del Harlem Renaissance, The New Negro (1925) de Alain Locke.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Place
United States\New York\Kings\New York\Manhattan Island\Harlem