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Aaron Douglas (1899-1979)

Fire, 1971 gouache on paper 11" x 10 1/4"...

Fire, 1971
gouache on paper
11" x 10 1/4" sheet size
10 3/8" x 9 1/2" sight size, signed and dated


Prints & Publications

Artist Information

After receiving his B.A. from the University of Nebraska (1922) and his B.F.A. from the University of Kansas (1923), Aaron Douglas moved to New York City, where he studied art with German modernist Winold Reiss, who encouraged him to celebrate his heritage by introducing African motifs and themes into his paintings. Reiss also instructed him to flatten his figures and incorporate art deco design elements in his compositions. Douglas quickly became a leading artist of the Harlem Renaissance, contributing illustrations regularly to The Crisis and Opportunity. He illustrated and co-created (along with Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and others) FIRE!!, a short-lived publication intended to be a “quarterly devoted to the younger Negro artist.” The only visual artist featured in Alain Locke’s 1925 anthology, The New Negro, Douglas contributed drawings as well as an essay entitled “The Legacy of the Ancestral Arts.” Among his most important illustrative collaborations was his series of drawings for James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse (1927). Douglas spent 1931 in Paris, studying at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and the Académie

Scandinave. In 1934, the WPA commissioned him to paint a series of four murals entitled Aspects of Negro Life for the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library. Douglas executed numerous other murals throughout his life, often depicting heroic and allegorical scenes of black history and culture such as those at the Erastus Craveth Memorial Library at Fisk University. In 1937, he founded and chaired the Art Department at Fisk, where he remained for twenty-nine years, earning his M.F.A. from Columbia University in the process. Even after his retirement from Fisk in 1966, Nashville remained Douglas’s home until his death in 1979. Douglas’ five decade career is currently the subject of a monograph and the first touring retrospective exhibition Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist organized by the Spencer Museum of Art at The University of Kansas.



Amistad Research Center, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD
Bennett College for Women Collection, Greensboro, NC
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA
Fisk University Gallery, Nashville, TN
Hampton University Museum, Hampton, VA
Howard University, Gallery of Art, Howard University, Washington, DC
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
LeMoyne-Owen College, Memphis, TN
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney, NE
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY
Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
Spencer Museum of Art, The University of Kansas, Savannah, GA
The Yale Collection of American Literature, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New Haven, CT

Aaron Douglas: A Private View.  Selections from the Daniels Collection, Frist Center for Visual Arts, Nashville, TN

Aaron Douglas:  African American Modernist, Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS; Frist Center for Visual Arts, Nashville, TN; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY

Negro Art, YWCA, 144 West 138th Street, New York, NY

An Exhibition of the Harlem Artist Guild, presented by Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, New York Public Library, 201 West 115th Street, New York, NY

Black Artists: Two Generations, The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ

Fifty Years of American Afro Art, Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

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

Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America, American Federation of Art, New York, NY

Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME

The Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art, The Beach Institute African-American Cultural Center / King-Tisdell Cottage, Savannah, GA; Hammonds House Galleries and Resource Center (now Hammonds House Museum), Atlanta, GA; Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL; Boston University Art Galleries, Boston University, Boston, MA; Main Gallery, Arts Consortium of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH; UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), San Antonio, TX; Canton Art Institute (now Canton Museum of Art), Canton, OH; Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE; University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Art Gallery, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI; Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, MI; Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI; Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, NC; Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, AL; Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, Pittsburgh, PA; Cheekwood Museum of Art, Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, Nashville, TN; Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV; Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Ocean Springs, MS; Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport, LA; Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC; The Museum of Art/Tallahassee, Tallahassee, FL; Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, GA; Henry Ford Museum (now The Henry Ford), Dearborn, MI; Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC; Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA; Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, TX; Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA; Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN; Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY; Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, AL; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS

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

The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art, San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX; El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, TX; Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, TN

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

Visions of My People: African American Art in Tennessee, Tennessee State Museum, 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
Revisiting American Art: Works from the Collections of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY

Black New York Artists of the 20th Century, Selections from the Schomburg Center Collections, The New York Public Library, New York, NY
African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks V, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY; Newcomb Art Gallery, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA

Locating the Spirit: Religion and Spirituality in African-American Art, Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

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

Challenge of the Modern: African-American Artists 1925-1945, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY

Embracing the Muse: Africa and African American Art, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY

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

Building Community: The African American Scene, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY

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

Il Secolo del Jazz: Arte, Cinema, Musica e Fotografia da Picasso a Basquiat (The Jazz Century: Art, Cinema, Music and Photography from Picasso to Basquiat), Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rovereto, Italy; Museé du quai Branly, Paris, France; Centro de Cultura Contemporànea, Barcelona, Spain
New Acquisitions: African American Masters Collection, Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, NB
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

Afro Modern: Journeys Through the Black Atlantic, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, England

INsite/INchelsea: The Inaugural Exhibition, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

The Harmon & Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
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

The Last Ten Years: In Focus; Selections from the David C. Driskell Center Collections, David C. Driskell Center Gallery,University of Maryland, College Park, MD
The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Washington, DC; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH 
Jacob Lawrence: Lines of Influence, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA

I Too Sing America: The Harlem Renaissance at 100, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH
Something to Say: The McNay Presents 100 Years of African American Art, McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX

Elevation from Within: The Study of Art at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, The Johnson Collection Gallery, Spartanburg, SC; Richardson Family Art Museum, Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts, Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC
Artists in Residence 1888 to Present: Fisk Faculty & Alumni Show, Carl Van Vechten Gallery, Fisk University Galleries, Fisk University, Nashville, TN
The Kinsey Collection of African American Art, African American Museum, Dallas, TX
Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art, Barbican Art Gallery, London, England; Belvedere, Vienna, Austria
Detroit Collects: Selections of African American Art from Private Collections, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI

Tell Me Your Story: 100 Years of Storytelling in African American Art, curated by Rob Perrée, Kunsthal KAde, Amersfoort, The Netherlands
Uptown 2020, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Lenfest Center for the Arts, Columbia University, New York, NY
Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition, curated by Adrienne L. Childs, The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925-1945, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX

In Great Company: David C. Driskell and Howard University, Howard University Gallery of Art, Howard University, Washington, DC
The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection, Greenwood Cultural Center and ONEOK Boathouse, Gathering Place, Tulsa, OK; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA; The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA