African American Art

Written by Sarah Provost
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African American art, like all other art, falls into two general categories: representational and abstract. The vast majority of African American art tends to be representational, with an emphasis on portraiture, singly and in groups. Portraits of proud Black women serve this population the way renderings of Venus and Primavera did for older eras.

Some Themes in African American Art

African American art is inclined to reflect the African American culture more overtly than many other kinds of art. Two of the themes that are most strikingly present in African American art are religion and music, especially jazz. These two lodestones of Black culture are beautifully expressed in such paintings as The Blues, 1974 by Romare Bearden, Better Get It in Your Soul by Tod Haskin Fredericks, or Gospel Travelers by Ernest Watson, which combines both themes with energy and verve.

African American art also has a propensity to be dominated by pure, saturated colors, often in earth tones of ocher, bronze and crimson. Perhaps influenced by African textiles and dyes, these paintings bring warmth and joy to a living area as much by their chromatics as by their subjects. The subject matter of African American art leans most often toward positive images, again making these paintings easy to live with.

The sheer number of choices available to the online shopper is amazing. Most online galleries have an African American section, ranging from a few pages to nearly fifty. Take a few minutes to scan this wide selection, and you may discover an artist or a painting that will bring you delight and pride for years to come.


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