Malvin Gray Johnson (1896-1934) Harmony, circa 1934
12019-08-27T10:40:09-07:00Lauren Cesirof37e4e52c3d9a4ff08b7937020ee9048f11c6739346707This image is featured in the exhibition, “not but nothing other: African American Portrayals, 1930s to Today.“ Hover over the highlighted rectangles for more information and links to related content.plain2019-09-04T11:33:42-07:00Oil on canvas24 x 30 in.Fisk University Galleries, Nashville, TennesseeLauren Cesirof37e4e52c3d9a4ff08b7937020ee9048f11c6739
12019-09-03T18:41:28-07:00Malvin Gray Johnson (1896-1934) Harmony, circa 19343Label & Mediaplain2019-09-04T11:33:56-07:00 Though he died suddenly at the relatively young age of thirty-eight, Malvin Gray Johnson was widely recognized as one of the leaders of advanced painting within the community of Harlem Renaissance artists. In the last three years of his life, he turned from the academic style he had mastered as a student at the National Academy of Design toward a modern idiom, becoming, in the words of James A. Porter—fellow painter and art historian—an “experimentalist,” incorporating the lessons of recent European art into his depictions of Black life.
African-American music had long been a subject of interest to Johnson, although here he turns his attention from the Southern spirituals that had previously inspired him to the urban world of ragtime and the Harlem nightclub. Three banjo players in eveningwear are arranged across the front of the picture plane. The expressionistic simplification of form and rhyming postures of his musicians eloquently communicate the “harmony” of the title.