Fragments of American Life: An Exhibition of Paintings

Fragments of American Life: An Exhibition of Paintings

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by John Ralph Willis

In the bicentennial year of 1976, the Princeton University Art Museum held its first exhibition on African American art, Fragments of American Life, which featured works by six contemporary painters: Romare Bearden, Joseph Delaney, Rex Goreleigh, Lois Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, and Hale Woodruff. These artists were championed by Harlem Renaissance philosopher and critic Alain Locke in his seminal book The Negro in Art (1940). 

Consisting entirely of private loans, this exhibition was curated by Princeton faculty member John Ralph Willis, the renowned scholar of African and Islamic history, former president of the recently founded Program in African American Studies, and honorary secretary of the University’s chapter of the Alain Locke Society. Distinctively modernist, the paintings reflected Locke’s injunction to black artists to demonstrate and celebrate the African roots of black life in America.

  • Softcover

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