Alain Locke and the Visual Arts

Alain Locke and the Visual Arts
Library Shelf Location 02.LOCK
Publication Date 09 Aug 2022

A fresh perspective on the influential critic, offering new ways of understanding the art of the Harlem Renaissance

Alain Locke (1885–1954), leading theorist of the Harlem Renaissance, maintained a lifelong commitment to the visual arts. Offering an in-depth study of Locke’s writings and art world interventions, Kobena Mercer focuses on the importance of cross-cultural entanglement. This distinctive approach reveals Locke’s vision of modern art as a dynamic space where images and ideas generate new forms under the fluid conditions of diaspora.

Positioning the philosopher as an advocate for an Afromodern aesthetic that drew from both formal experiments in Europe and the iconic legacy of the African past, Mercer shows how Aaron Douglas, Loïs Mailou Jones, and other New Negro artists acknowledged the diaspora’s rupture with the ancestral past as a prelude to the rebirth of identity. In his 1940 picture book, The Negro in Art, Locke also explored the different ways black and white artists approached the black image. Mercer’s reading highlights the global mobility of black images as they travel across national and ethnic frontiers. Finally, Mercer examines how Locke’s investment in art was shaped by gay male aestheticism. Black male nudes, including works by Richmond Barthé and Carl Van Vechten, thus reveal the significance of queer practices in modernism’s cross-cultural genesis

ISBN 9780300247268
Pages 240pp, 25.4 x 17.7cm
Author Kobena Mercer
Format Hardcover
Publisher Yale University Press, New Haven
Category Contemporary Cultural Studies
Keywords Art Criticism, African American Art, Art, Modern — 21st century

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