ML - Michigan Avenue

2015 - Issue 2 - Late Spring

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 53 of 139

photography © Valerie gerrard Browne, courtesy of the chicago history MuseuM A ChiCAgoAn in PAris Painter ArchibAld Motley made the art world Pay attention, then Played the game his way. by thomas connors Archibald J. Motley Jr. didn't do himself any favors. Though he trained at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1910s and was the first black artist to have a show in a major New York gallery, he dismissed the idea of the Harlem Renaissance, had no trouble criticizing other black artists, and—perhaps most detrimental to his legacy—wasn't much for selling his work. So perhaps it's no wonder he remains one of the best little-known American artists. A son of Chicago (raised in then- white Englewood), Motley gets his due at the Chicago Cultural Center this spring and summer with the exhibit "Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist." Organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, the show reveals the breadth of Motley's work, from traditionally rendered portraits to wildly col- orful depictions of life in the clubs and streets of Chicago and Paris. Motley not only brought a deeper resonance to the black figure in art, but as an African- American man who wed a white woman and had a biracial son, he was a great delineator of the color spectrum within black society. He cast his eye widely around his community, capturing the exuberance of kids at play, the fraternity of the pool hall, the guardedness of the card table, and the carousing of a late night on the town. Whether painting a portrait with the directness of an old master or conveying the syncopated rhythms of a scene, Motley had no doubts about what he was doing. As he once told an interviewer from the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art, "I've always wanted to paint my people just the way that they were." March 7–August 31. 78 E. Washington St., 312-744-6630; MA Hot Rhythm, a 1961 painting by Archibald Motley, part of an exhibit of the artist's work now on view at the Chicago Cultural Center. 52 culture Art Full

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of ML - Michigan Avenue - 2015 - Issue 2 - Late Spring