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The poster of The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism.

Something amazing happened in 1969. The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened its doors for the first time in history to host an exhibition devoted to African American Art. The exhibition was called “Harlem on My Mind: Cultural Capital of Black America, 1900—1968″. The controversial event documented life in Harlem through photographs, movies and recordings. However, the museum decided to disallow the residents of Harlem to participate in the exhibition. This decision raised a wave of reactions and criticism.

The Harlem Art Community went on to organize grand protests and conflicts between artists and the museum caught the attention of the press. A cohort of Black contemporary artists, some of them residing in Harlem, led the protests and started a wave of reactions towards other museums too. In addition, the protests started a multicultural wave with the demand for inclusion.

Laura Wheeler Waring’s “Girl with Pomegranate,” circa 1940.

This month, more than fifty years on the MET is attempting a second exhibition dedicated exclusively to African American Art. The fascinating event calls itself: The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism. Its aim is to explore the ways that Black artists portrayed life in New York’s Harlem during the period between 1920s to 1940s. In other worlds the period of the Great Migration. During this period, millions of African Americans began to move away from the segregated rural South.

Moreover, the exhibition will include more than 160 paintings, films, sculptures and more. Featured artists include Charles Alston, Aaron Douglas, Meta Warrick Fuller, William H. Johnson, Archibald Motley, Winold Reiss, Augusta Savage, James Van Der Zee, and Laura Wheeler Waring.

James Van Der Zee, “Tea Time at Madam C.J. Walker’s Beauty Salon,” 1929, gelatin silver print.

In addition, the featured artists will be displayed in direct juxtaposition with their European counterparts. Some of them are Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch, and Pablo Picasso among others.

The main sponsor of this magnificent exhibition is the Ford Foundation together with the Barrie A. and Deedee Wigmore Foundation and Denise Littlefield Sobel.

If you want to read the full story of the Harlem Renaissance, read our article about it, The Harlem Renaissance.

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