Virtual Art Seminar
Black Heroes of Art
Discover the Unsung Black Artists & Models who Left their Mark on Art History
Join an intimate community for five lively discussions on the representation of black people in art. In each class, we will learn about an important black artist or model. We will study art from 1800 to the present, observing societal shifts and artistic movements and the roles played by people of African descent therein. Finally, we will examine work by contemporary black artists. Inspired by two exhibitions – Posing Modernity at Columbia University (2018) and The Black Model at Musée d’Orsay (2019) – this series integrates cutting-edge research from scholars such as Denise Murrell, Cécile Bishop, James Smalls, and Wendy Grossman.
No background in art necessary. All that's required is a curious mind. Sessions are led by Lauren Jimerson, PhD.
"Black Heroes of Art" aims to stimulate a deeper understanding and spark conversations on the history and importance of the black figure in art. Discuss cutting-edge research which has redefined art history.
Learn about the ingenuity of black artists past and present.
10% of total proceeds will go to Museum of the African Diaspora.
Live From Paris, where we go beyond the Louvre!
Discover art that you won't see at the Louvre or the Orsay. Uncover art from private collections and museum storage.
Connect with people from around the world to explore art, history, and culture.
Thursdays at 9 am est, October 22-November 19
Last year, I spoke on France 24 about the "Black Models" exhibition held at the Orsay. Here's a clip from that interview.
Denise Murrell's pioneering research has drawn international attention to the topic of the representation of people of color in art.
Discover Black Models & Artists Past and Present
Week 1: A Face with a Name
An emancipated slave from Guadeloupe, Madeleine appeared in a portrait by Marie-Guillemine Benoist. She was a domestic servant in the home of the artist's brother-in-law, a naval officer who had brought her back from the Antilles in the Caribbean. Her portrait was shown in the Paris Salon of 1800, but her identity was not revealed at the time and was subsequently forgotten. Thanks to recent archival research carried out by Marianne Levy, her first name was discovered. We will study this painting and its myriad interpretations.
Week 2: Manet's Laure into the Spotlight
With "Olympia" (1863), Manet transfigured the nude in a manner which reflected contemporary anxieties and ambiguities of gender and class, all the while refuting the academic conventions for the representation of the idealized nude. But while critics and scholars focused on the white female nude displayed prominently in the foreground, the black maidservant, Laure, largely escaped attention. We will learn about Denise Murrell’s groundbreaking research which has recently shed light on Olympia’s overshadowed counterpart, and learn how race, as much as gender and class, underpins modernity.
Week 3: From Circus to Stage
We will learn about the growing black community that transformed Paris with their cultural traditions, such as dance and jazz. We will discover the mixed-race Prussian circus star Miss La La (Olga), the African-American performer Josephine Baker and the Guadeloupean dancer and model Adrienne Fidelin. We will study their representations in works by Degas, Man Ray, and Picasso as we consider the multifaceted significance of the black figure in cultural life of early 20th century France.
Week 4: Artists of the Harlem Renaissance
Matisse first visited New York in 1930 on route to Tahiti. There, he discovered a flourishing Renaissance that championed modern black urban culture. He met intellectuals, musicians and artists involved in the Harlem Renaissance movement, such as Du Bois and Alain Locke, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and James Van der Dee. Upon his return to France, he blended the influence of modern jazz rhythms that he heard in New York with the colors and forms that he saw in nature of the island of Tahiti. We will observe how the Harlem Renaissance influenced Matisse's work and learn about the Harlem Renaissance artists, William Henry Johnson and Jacob Lawrence as well.
Week 5: Remaking History
Black artists are remaking art history. We will study artists of color from the 1970s to the present who have reinterpreted canonical works from the past, transfigured the genre of the nude, or transformed the subject of history painting, all the while placing the black figure in the spotlight. We will consider how artists such as Romare Bearden are critical to the history of modern painting. We will discuss how contemporary artists, including Faith Ringgold, Kehinde Wiley, Elizabeth Colomba and Mickalene Thomas, critically engage with issues of gender and race, as they deconstruct and expand the hallowed genres of portraiture and the nude while featuring the black female subject. We will see how race has become one of the most dominant and vital subjects for artists today.