Art by William Henry Johnson, Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Fifth Avenue, Gallery 999, NYC 
February 25 – July 28, 2024  

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is set to host a groundbreaking exhibition “The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism”, from February 25 to July 28, 2024. With around 160 works on display, the exhibition aims to delve into the impact of Black artists during the 1920s–40s in shaping modern life, particularly in Harlem and Chicago’s South Side, amidst the Great Migration.

Black artists present the Harlem Renaissance as a central, modern event of both international and historical understanding. This topic hasn’t been surveyed since 1987, so this exhibition offers an updated platform for these artists’ portrayals. This way, they can not only represent the ‘Black modern subject’, as they’ve put it but also fight back against long-lasting racial stereotypes. 

Even with their united front, “The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism” allows room for diversity in their message. Featured artists such as William Henry Johnson, Archibald J. Motley, and Laura Wheeler Waring are not forced into a strict artistic box. Instead, some use the exhibit’s prompt to explore different experimental styles, like playing with African and Egyptian aesthetics or committing to a more academic, traditional approach. 

Sculpture by Augusta Savage, Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

There will be a range of paintings, sculptures, film, and photography from The Met’s James Van Der Zee Archive. A large portion of the artwork collection has also come from extensive collections belonging to multiple Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Some of the institutions lending their artwork are Clark Atlanta University Art Museum, Fisk University Galleries, and Howard University Gallery of Art. 

Besides the exhibition itself, there will also be tours, workshops, and talks sprinkled throughout, while it’s on view. Some of the earlier events coincide with the conclusion of Black History Month, such as the most upcoming ‘Met Expert Talks’ gathering with professional curators, conservators, and scholars on February 27th.

The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism” exhibition promises to be a landmark event, offering visitors a unique opportunity to look back at one of the most transformative periods in American history. 

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