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Augusta Savage (1892-1962)


1 of 3

Gamin, c.1930
painted plaster
9 1/8" x 5 3/4" x 4", signed 

Untitled (Girl with Pigtails), c.1935
bronze
8” x 3 3/4” x 4 3/4”
 

Portrait of a Baby, 1942
terracotta
10" x 8 1/2" x 8", signed and dated

 


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Artist Information

Augusta Savage was one of the most influential artists and educators of the Harlem Renaissance. Born Augusta Christine Fells in Green Cove Springs, Florida, she moved to New York and trained at the Cooper Union School of Art (1921-1924). In 1929, a sculpture of her nephew, Gamin won her a Julius Rosenwald Grant, and in 1931, Savage received another Rosenwald Grant. She traveled to France with the funds, studying at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. When she returned to New York in 1932, she opened the Savage School of Arts and Crafts in Harlem, where her students included William Artis, Jacob Lawrence, and Norman Lewis. Working in plaster, which was then painted to resemble bronze, Savage is best known for her sensitive and skillful modeling of the human figure. The majority of her sculptures are small-scale portraits of family and friends and portrait busts of African American leaders

like W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey. In 1934, she co-founded the Harlem Arts Workshop; in 1935, she became a founding member of the Harlem Artists Guild; and from 1936-1937, she worked for the WPA Federal Arts Project as the Director of the Harlem Community Art Center. Commissioned to do a sculpture for the 1939 New York World’s Fair, Savage left the WPA in 1937 to complete what would become her most famous work, Lift Every Voice and Sing (also know as The Harp). After the fair, the sculpture was destroyed, and unemployed, Savage was virtually forced to give up her career as an artist due to lack of funds. In the mid 1940s, Savage began living a reclusive life in Saugerties, New York, where she explored her interest in writing. In 1962, Savage returned to New York City and died of cancer later that year.

SELECTED MUSEUM COLLECTIONS

The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Jacksonville, FL
The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
Hampton University Museum, Hampton, VA
Howard University Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC
Morgan State College, Baltimore, MD
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
National Archives, Washington, DC
Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL
The Schomburg Collection, The New York Public Library, New York, NY
The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, GA

 

1929
Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris

1930
Salon d’Automne, Paris

1932
Argent Art Galleries, New York, NY
Art Anderson Gallery, New York, NY

1939
Argent Art Galleries, New York, NY
World’s Fair, New York, NY

1988
Augusta Savage and the Art Schools of Harlem, The Schomburg Collection, The New York Public
Library, New York, NY

1932
Salons of America, Anderson Art Gallery, New York, NY

1934
Argent Galleries, New York, NY

1967
The Evolution of Afro-American Artists: 1800-1950, City University of New York, New York, NY

1978
New York/Chicago: WPA and the Black Artist, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY

1985
1935: The Year and the Arts, Emily Lowe Gallery, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

1986
Wadsworth Atheneum, West Hartford, CT

1990
Against the Odds: African-American Artists and the Harmon Foundation, The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ;  Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC; Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL

1991
Black Women in Arts, Bridge Gallery, Country Office Building, White Plains, NY

1994 
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

1995
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, II, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY; Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA

1996
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, III, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
The Countee Cullen Art Collection from the Hampton University Museum, California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Three Generations of African American Women Sculptors: A Study in Paradox, Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum, Philadelphia, PA; The Equitable Gallery, New York, NY; Museum of African American Life and Culture, Dallas, TX; California Afro-American Museum Foundation, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Boston, MA; Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; Center for the Study of African American Life and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Woman’s Work: A Century of Achievement in American Art, The Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA
The Figure in American Sculpture: A Question of Modernity, National Academy of Design, New York, NY

1997
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, IV, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY; Fisk University Galleries, Nashville, TN
Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance, Hayward Gallery, London; Arnolfini, Bristol; Mead Gallery, University of Warwick, England; M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Queens Artists: Highlights of the 20th Century, Queens Museum of Art, Flushing, NY
Revisiting American Art: Works from the Collections of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY

1998
Born of Clay II - The Ceramic Figure Since 1920, Garth Clark Gallery, New York, NY

1999
Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection, African American Museum, Dallas, TX; Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco: M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA; Naples Museum of Art, Naples, FL; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC
To Conserve a Legacy: American Art From Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

2000
The Enduring Figure 1890s – 1970s: Sixteen Sculptors from the National Association of Women Artists, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

2001
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, VIII, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY; Texas Southern University Museum, Houston, TX

2002 
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, IX, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY

2003
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, X, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY
Challenge of the Modern: African-Artists 1925-1945, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY
Artist and Friends: Selected Works by Gwen Knight and Augusta Savage, Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, Eatonville, FL

2005
Syncopated Rhythms: 20th-Century African American Art from the George and Joyce Wein Collection, Boston University Art Gallery, Boston, MA

2008
African American Art:  200 Years, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY

2009
A Force for Change: African American Art and the Julius Rosenwald Fund, The Spertus Museum, Chicago, IL; Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA; Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ
Harlem Renaissance, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK

2012
INsite/INchelsea, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY

2014
Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue from the Collections of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and Camille O. and William H. Cosby Jr., Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC

2014
Augustus Saint Gaudens Award for Excellence in Art, Cooper Union Alumni Association, New York, NY