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Camara Dia Holloway

(b Virginia, 1825; d Honolulu, HI, May 3, 1904).

African American photographer. Ball’s parents, William and Susan Ball, were freeborn Americans of African descent. J. P. Ball learned how to make daguerreotypes from a black Bostonian, John P. Bailey. He opened his first photographic enterprise in Cincinnati, OH, in 1845. Black-owned businesses seemed viable in this abolitionist stronghold and key conduit to the West. After a failed first venture and time as an itinerant photographer, he returned and opened Ball’s Great Daguerrean Gallery of the West in 1849, which became one of the largest and most successful photographic studios in the region with an enthusiastic multi-racial clientele. Ball hired other African Americans as operators, including his brother, Thomas Ball, his brother-in-law, Alexander Thomas, and the African American landscape painter, Robert S. Duncanson.

An activist for abolition, Ball produced a painted panorama that illustrated the history of African enslavement in 1855 and authored the accompanying pamphlet to great acclaim. With a national reputation and important portrait commissions from such cultural icons as Frederick Douglass and Jenny Lind, Ball expanded with a second studio operated by his brother-in-law who had become a favorite with clients. Together they started an additional studio, the Ball & Thomas Photographic Art Gallery. Ball’s Cincinnati enterprises survived well into the 1880s in the hands of Thomas and other Ball relatives since they remained current with photographic technologies....

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Atlantic City, NJ, Sept 7, 1917; d Seattle, June 9, 2000).

American painter. He took Works Progress Administration art classes in New York (1934–7), and also studied at the Harlem Art Workshop, New York (1935) and the American Artists’ School (1937). Lawrence’s vigorous social realism quickly brought him recognition and by 1941 he was the first African American artist to be represented in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His early work comprised genre depictions of everyday life in Harlem, as well as major series devoted to black history (1940–41; see And the Migrants Kept Coming and In the North the Negro had Better Educational Facilities). The 41 pictures of the Touissant L’Ouverture series (1937–8; see 1986–7 exh. cat., pp. 52–3) are addressed to Haiti’s struggle for independence in the 19th century. Small pictures, executed in tempera on paper, they are characteristic of his use of water-based media throughout his career; the schematic designs, flat space, and vigorous, angular figures are typical of his style both at the beginning and the end of his life. ...