Skip to main content

Le Tumulte Noir/Male Dancer with Blue

Artist
Paul Colin, 27 Jun 1892 - 17 Aug 1985
Sitter
Maurice Chevalier, 1888 - 1972
Date
1927
Type
Print
Medium
Lithograph with pochoir coloring on paper
Dimensions
Image/Sheet: 47.1 x 31.9cm (18 9/16 x 12 9/16")
Mat: 71.1 x 55.9cm (28 x 22")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
© 1997 Estate of Paul Colin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Object number
NPG.91.199.12A
Exhibition Label
Paul Colin and Le Tumulte Noir
The jazz age had taken hold in Paris and with it, le tumulte noir, an intense fascination with black culture. African sculpture had inspired such artists as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso; African American ragtime and jazz stimulated avant-garde composers; dancers were captivated by the Cakewalk, the Black Bottom, and the Charleston. Many people perceived in non-Western art forms a "pure" and intuitive creative impulse, in contrast to the overrefined artifice of white European culture. African American expatriates fleeing segregation at home were welcomed.
In 1927 Paul Colin published his portfolio Le Tumulte Noir, featuring forty-five lithographs with pochoir, or stenciled, color, in an edition of 500. Colin's dynamic images were inspired by cubism and art deco modernism. Several lithographs directly evoke Baker's slim form, costumes, and energetic dancing. Others feature jazz bands, prominent white music-hall entertainers depicted as black, or amusing images of the French attempting new dances.
Le Tumulte Noir is not without racist overtones drawn from imagery prominent in American and European popular culture. Nonetheless, it does not just celebrate the "primitive"; its tone is more admiring than condescending.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection