Aaron Douglas, Idylls of the Deep South, 1934

During the early 20th century, between 1920 and 1930 a movement of creative explosion in music and art came about in the art community in America. This African-American cultural movement was known at first “The New Negro Movement” and then later became known as “The Harlem Renaissance”. The Harlem Renaissance attracted the prosperous and stylish of the black middle class to the north to create an extraordinary amount of artistic appeal. Like what was happening in Europe with the Avant-Garde movements, the Harlem Renaissance embraced all art forms, which included dance, music, theatre, and other artworks. The Harlem Renaissance highlighted the unique culture of African-American and in a way redefined African-American expression of that unique culture. One of the important artist of this time is Aaron Douglas, who painted the Idylls of the Deep South in 1934. In the Idyll of the Deep South, Douglas portrays a different kind of “happy southern plantation blacks” by showing the central theme of the painting being cheerful and content African-Americans who are singing, dancing, and playing music. The star and ray of light in the left-hand corner of the painting has been perceived as a representation of the north star,  but was later found out to be Douglas version of the red star of Communism, which Douglas  included to illustrate the hopes of some black intellectuals as the only hope for black equality in America.


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