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Insuperable obstacles : the impact of racism on the creative and personal development of four nineteenth century African American artists.

Author: Naurice Frank Jr Woods; Union Institute.
Dissertation: Ph. D. Union Institute 1993
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Document : Thesis/dissertation : eBook   Computer File : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
This study examines the extent to which racism affected the lives and work of four nineteenth-century African-American artists. the artists included in the study are Robert Scott Duncanson (1821-1872), Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828-1901), Mary Edmonia Lewis (1845?-1911?), and Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937). These artists realized, relatively early in their lives, that their creative urges needed a lifetime of
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Material Type: Document, Thesis/dissertation, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Naurice Frank Jr Woods; Union Institute.
OCLC Number: 781755736
Description: 1 online resource (413 pages)

Abstract:

This study examines the extent to which racism affected the lives and work of four nineteenth-century African-American artists. the artists included in the study are Robert Scott Duncanson (1821-1872), Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828-1901), Mary Edmonia Lewis (1845?-1911?), and Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937). These artists realized, relatively early in their lives, that their creative urges needed a lifetime of productivity in which to find full expression. As members of an oppressed minority, however, they often encountered the limiting effects of racism in pursuit of mainstream acceptance and recognition. Although these artists clearly possessed a high degree of creative ability, they were reminded frequently that a career in the fine arts was not an acceptable profession for people of African descent. This belief, as this study shows, stemmed from the popular and widespread notion that Africans and African-Americans were inherently inferior to whites in almost every conceivable category. Because of this misguided assumption, Duncanson, Bannister, Lewis, and Tanner, were given few opportunities to succeed as art-makers. They endured the overwhelming stigma attached to racial prejudice, and, despite the odds, achieved national and international acclaim.

Their eventual success did not come by accident. This study reveals how the dedication, perseverance, and talent exhibited by these artists carried them beyond their perceived place as second-class citizens in American society, and took them to the heart of the leading art centers in America and Europe.

This study also examines the social and political climate that existed in the cities in which these artists lived. It places their struggle for acceptance from the mainstream art community within the broader context of all nineteenth-century African-American's struggle for respect, equality, and self-determination. Finally, this study addresses the dilemma these artists faced in maintaining their ethnic identity while pursuing European derived cultural and aesthetic ideals.

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