Los Angeles exhibitions. Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist at LACMA. On View: October 19, 2014–February 1, 2015. Location: BCAM, Level 3.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, the first retrospective of the artist to travel to the West Coast. Comprising approximately 45 paintings, Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist is a full-scale survey of one of the most important Harlem Renaissance artists active outside of New York City. The exhibition surveys Motley’s entire career—including periods the artist spent in Chicago, Paris, and Mexico—and presents the painter’s visual examination of African American culture during the Jazz Age, a time when society and attitudes were shifting.
“This is a rare opportunity for Los Angeles audiences to see the lively and incisive paintings of Archibald Motley,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. “Many of these paintings belong to private collections, or have never traveled to Los Angeles before. We are glad to present them to the public in this exhibition.”
“Centered in the Harlem district of New York City in the ’20s and ’30s, the Harlem Renaissance led to an increasing appreciation of arts, literature, theater, and music by African American artists,” said Ilene Susan Fort, senior curator and the Gail and John Liebes Curator of American Art at LACMA. “Capturing the bold color and shadowy, syncopated rhythm of
nightlife during the Jazz Age, Motley painted crowded urban street views and indoor scenes of nightclubs, bars, and other social gatherings that best characterized the newly emerging,
modern and urbane black community.”
Archibald Motley opened at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University (January 30–May 11, 2014) and traveled to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas (June 14–September 7, 2014). Following its presentation at LACMA, the exhibition will travel to the Chicago Cultural Center (March 6–August 31, 2015) and conclude its tour at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (fall 2015).
About Archibald Motley:
Archibald John Motley, Jr. was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1891. During the first half of the 20th century, he lived and worked in a predominately white neighborhood on Chicago’s southwest side. In 1929 Motley won a Guggenheim Fellowship, which funded a year of study in France, during which time he created Blues, a colorful rhythm-inflected painting of Jazz Age Paris, in addition to several canvases that vividly capture the pulse and tempo of “la vie bohème.” Similar in spirit to his Chicago paintings, these Parisian canvases depict an African diaspora in Paris’s meandering streets and congested cabarets.
In the 1950s, Motley made several lengthy visits to Mexico, where he created vivid depictions of life and landscapes. He died in Chicago in 1981.