This winter, a brand-new exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art will transport guests back in time one hundred years. The exhibit, titled "The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism," will feature 160 pieces examining how Black artists depicted daily modern life in the new Black communities that emerged in the 1920s and 1940s in Harlem, New York City, Chicago's South Side, and other locations across the country as a result of the Great Migration.
The event will debut in February 2024 and will be the first examination of the subject to take place in New York City since 1987. Additionally, it will make the Harlem Renaissance the first movement of global modern art to be directed by an African-American.
According to a news statement from curator-at-large Denise Murrell, "the exhibition underscores the essential role of the Harlem Renaissance and its radically new modes of portraying the modern Black subject as central to the development of transatlantic modern art."
Galleries will delve into the artists' diverse representational techniques, from an engagement with African and Egyptian aesthetics to European avant-garde pictorial strategies, as well as the movement's cultural ideology.
The artists who portrayed the contemporary Black issue in a radically modern manner and rejected the conventional racial clichés are at the heart of the exhibition. According to the museum, several pieces will examine "the fraught approach to social issues, including queer identity, colorism and class tensions, and interracial relationship, during the New Negro era."
Other galleries will be crammed with genre scenes and portraiture that vividly depict Black urban life in the 1920s to 1940s through paintings, sculptures, photographs, and video projections.
Among the featured artists are Laura Wheeler Waring, Miguel Covarrubias, Aaron Douglas, Meta Warrick Fuller, William H. Johnson, Archibald Motley, Jr., Winold Reiss, and Charles Alston.
The exhibition "boldly underscores the movement's pivotal role in shaping the portrayal of the modern Black subject—and indeed, the very fabric of early 20th-century modern art," according to Max Hollein, CEO of the Met. "Through compelling portraits, vibrant city scenes, and dynamic portrayals of nightlife created by leading artists of the time."
The Clark Atlanta University Art Museum, Fisk University Galleries, Hampton University Art Museum, and Howard University Gallery of Art are just a few of the many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) whose extensive collections will be used by the Met to create "The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism." The National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum are two additional significant lenders.
In-depth archival research, conservation and restoration work, and original photography of significant but rarely viewed works of art are other projects the museum is working on.