Monday, June 27, 2016

Aaron Douglas Celebrates Black Preachers at National Gallery of Art

Aaron Douglas, The Last Judgment, 1939, National Gallery of Art, Washington,Patrons' Permanent Fund, The Avalon Fund, 2014.135.1
WASHINGTON, DC---When the National Gallery of Art opened to the public in 1941, the nucleus of its collection consisted of 126 paintings and 26 sculptures given by Andrew Mellon—from Jan van Eyck’s Annunciation to Raphael’s Alba Madonna. One of the museum's most recent acquisitions (May 2015) is The Judgement Day by Aaron Douglas (1899 – 1979), an African American artist who lived in Harlem during the mid- 1920s. The Judgment Day, is the final painting in the series of eight, and is the first work by Douglas to enter the collection. At the center of the composition a powerful black Gabriel stands astride earth and sea. With trumpet call, the archangel summons the nations of the earth to judgment. Recasting both the biblical narrative and the visual vocabulary of art deco and synthetic cubism, Douglas created an image as racially impassioned as the sermons of the black preachers celebrated in God’s Trombones.

Jan van Eyck, The Annunciation, c. 1434/1436, oil on canvas transferred from panel, Andrew W. Mellon Collection
RaphaelMarchigian, 1483 - 1520The Alba Madonnac. 1510oil on panel transferred to canvasoverall (diameter): 94.5 cm (37 3/16 in.)framed: 139.7 x 135.9 x 14 cm (55 x 53 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.)Andrew W. Mellon Collection