One of the foremost artists of the Harlem Renaissance receives a long-overdue homecoming beginning today at the University of Kansas Spencer Museum of Art.
Despite being credited with advancing the African-American modernist movement, Topekan Aaron Douglas is an often overlooked artist. Douglas is maybe an artist who gets a paragraph or two if hes lucky in most art surveys, Stephanie Knappe, the Spencers exhibit coordinator, tells the Pitch
. Knappe and others hope to correct that oversight with the exhibit Aaron Douglas: African-American Modernist,
on display through December 2. Nine years in the making, it is the first-ever traveling exhibit of the artists works.
Born to laborer parents in Topeka in 1899, Douglas graduated from the University of Nebraska and taught at Kansas Citys Lincoln High School in the 1920s. Many of his paintings emit a dreamlike feel, with strong silhouettes painted among muted layers of grays, pinks, purples and blues. A strong sense of form and expanding shapes make up for what the figures lack in detail. (For more on the exhibit and a related conference happening later this month, see aarondou glas.ku.edu.)
After you visit the Spencer for a look at Douglas work, drop into the museums 20/21 Gallery
. The name reflects the Spencers new, more progressive approach to its space. With art hanging from floor to ceiling, the gallery is markedly different from the rest of the museum. Labels are removed in order to make the viewer feel surrounded by art. The art consists of film, paintings, sculpture and mixed media, including a piece made of hair and glue by Chinese artist Wenda Gu.
The Spencer is located at 1301 Mississippi in Lawrence. Admission is free. Call 785-864-4710 for hours and additional information.
Spencer Museum of Art
Sept. 8-Dec. 2, 2007