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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts and the black revolution

Porter, James A.
Afro-American art at floodtide,   pp. [256 and 257]-[271] PDF (15.1 MB)

Page [258]

"Water Nymphs", 1868, Robert S. Duncanson
"After the Shower", E. M. Bannister
whites but also from inter-continental
and international transference and
persistence of American, African,
European and Asian traits of
human culture.
As concerns the persistence of African
cultural traits in the Americas, that
is abundantly evident in the insular
communities of the Caribbean and the
Antilles as well as in the Southern United
States and in Brazil. Scholars like the
late Melville J. Herskovits, Carter G.
Woodson, Artur Ramos, Gilberto
Freyre and Alain LeRoy Locke, have
investigated such reciprocal influences
between Africa and America in terms
of the olden plantation cultures of
North and South America as well as of
related urban and industrial communities
in the same geographical areas. They
have found that the Negro artist
over the generations has both invented
and partaken of artistic styles, especially
in music and song. Not only that, they
disclose that the talented Negro has
also occasionally borrowed from the
olden as well as the prevailing currents
of style available to him in the cultural
baggage of the dominant white group.
The principal distinction to be noted,
however, between Afro-American art
of the Nineteenth century and that
of today is a pervasive sense of malaise
and spiritual alienation which turns up
vividly in the work of the contemporary
artist. This expression of disturbed
or distraught feeling is scarcely
comparable to the mournful or the
melancholy moods of the Negro
Spiritual or of the Negro worksong;
for it contains strident harmonies
and tensions of form, color and
feeling which in the plastic arts as well
as in music connote the emotions of
love, hatred, despair or triumph
in such concentrated doses as never
burdened the Spirituals. As others have
"An Afternoon, Montigny", William H. Harper

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