H I C A G O
R I B U T E
There is nothing
borrowed, nothing copied, just an
unraveling of the Negro soul. So, why should the
Negro painter mimic that which the white man is
doing, when he has such an enormous colossal
field practically all his own; portraying his people,
historically, dramatically, hilariously, but honestly.
Negro in Art
Archibald J. Motley,
Jr. was one of the first American painters who
devoted his career primarily to African-American subject matter and
one of the first successful black artists in this century.
were frank representations of black life. His work
ranged from sensitive portraits to stylized street and cabaret scenes.
Motley lived and painted
in his family home at 350 West 60th
Street for most of his life. He graduated from Englewood High School
in 1914 and from The Art Institute of Chicago in 1918. During this time
he worked with his father on the railroad and painted in the evenings.
In 1924, Motley married
his high school sweetheart, a
German-American named Edith Granzo. A year later, he received prizes
from the Art Institute for two paintings, and his solo exhibition in New
York in 1928 sold 22 of 26 paintings. A Guggenheim Fellowship in
1929 enabled him to study in Paris.
Throughout the 1930s
and 40s, Motley participated in many important
exhibitions. The year before his death, he was honored by President
Jimmy Carter at a White House reception.