Aaron Douglas' "Crucifixion" Essay

1337 Words Feb 6th, 2013 6 Pages
Aaron Douglas’ Crucifixion

Throughout much of Modernism many artists were influenced and informed by the work of exotic regions throughout the world, more specifically Africa. African Art would influence much of the Modern Movements from the latter part of the Nineteenth and the beginning of the Twentieth Centuries. Much is said of the artists within the Harlem Renaissance, and how it directly reflects the influence of Africana upon their art. Often times, this work is neglected to be considered Modern if not in specialized selections of course throughout many of today's higher institutions of learning. However, thus being said, Aaron Douglas, often considered the pioneer of African American Modern Art, would bring this notion to the
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In addition to the aforementioned, “The Crucifixion” was originally illustrated in James Weldon Johnson’s book of poems, “God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse” (Driskell, 110). However, with the subject matter and the painterly quality it is not hard to place them among fine art painting. For the vast majority of Douglas’ work, as with “The Crucifixion,” black history, religion, and myth provided the substantive sources for his stylized subjects (Driskell, 111). The composition is highly composed with a designer’s eye for detail and stylistic elements.

Furthermore, the central figure of Jesus, which is washed-out, flattened white, surrounded by geometric forms and interpenetrating circular shapes, possibly signifying a halo or representation of thereof, and also moves the composition outwardly from the central Jesus; hinting towards the modern use of interpenetrating lines that occurred within Cubism (Pinder, 107). Douglas layers Cubist design elements to create a highly fragmented, yet cohesive composition that reads more designed and symbolic through imagery. To add, the use of very directional/graphic arrows pointing upwards and outwardly, it is not hard to read this as something taking the importance away from the central Jesus figure to the overshadowing black man and to the heavens. Additionally one cannot begin to confront the issue of Modernity and Modern Art movements without mentioning the influence of African art objects on Modern…

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