By: Ashley Rose
In every aspect of life, we are surrounded by different mediums of art. From architectural structures to murals downtown and photographs in picture frames, art is something that consumes our lives. As we stop to admire the art around us, it is important to acknowledge artistic pioneers that have influenced modern creation. This article will highlight a few remarkable Black artists.
Gordon Parks (1912-2006)
Gordon Parks, known as one of the first ever self-taught photographers, impacted American photojournalism heavily. Particularly through his work produced in the 1940s through the 1970s, Parks is known for capturing candid stills that accurately portrayed what it was like to be living in poverty as an African American throughout the civil rights movement.
Parks was hired by Life magazine in the mid 1940s for his fashion photography, as well as political features. Here, his first major publication was released in 1948 as a photo essay. Parks’ work was featured on Life magazine cover when he shot the 1951 Christian Dior campaign.
Jean Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)
In his brief 28 years of life, Jean Michel Basquiat broke countless artistic boundaries no other artists dared to break. Basquiat has been called the Black founder of the neo-expressionism art movement of the 1980s.
Known for being an artist of “chaotic brilliance,” Basquiat utilized social commentary within his artworks to help portray his experiences in the Black community, specifically highlighting socio-economic differences between the wealthy White community and Black communities living in poverty.
Augusta Savage (1892-1962)
Augusta Savage is a famous sculptor known for influencing the Harlem Renaissance. She began making small sculptures out of clay and mud as a child, and this later grew into a lifelong passion.
In 1923, Savage applied to a prestigious summer art program in France, where she was quickly accepted. Upon the committee finding out she was Black, they retracted her acceptance, assuming other White students would be uncomfortable working alongside a Black woman.
Savage refused to let the racism of her own country and France contest her abilities to create. In 1923, Savage moved to New York, where she found a large community of Black creators. Most notably, Savage was the first African American artist to be elected into the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors in 1934.