Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist

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Kids can listen and learn from this audio guide highlighting selected works in Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist.

Archibald J. Motley Jr., _Black Belt_, 1934. Oil on canvas, 33 x 40 1/2 in. (83.8 x 102.9 cm). Hampton University Museum, Hampton, Virginia. Image courtesy the Chicago History Museum. © Valerie Gerrard Browne

NARRATOR: This painting depicts a street in Chicago known as The Stroll—the business and entertainment district for the predominantly African American neighborhood known as Bronzeville or the Black Belt. Think back to Motley’s portraits, with their extremely naturalistic style. How does this painting feel similar or different? He hasn’t painted the faces with the same detail—he’s more interested in the energy of the crowd. And everything is bathed in strange color from the artificial lights, which makes everything look intense and exciting. Everywhere you look, there are groups of people living out some kind of drama—and Motley seems to invite you to imagine what it is. 

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