Augusta Savage viewing two of her sculptures, Susie Q and Truckin, 1939.
Four almost identical men are having a good time, probably in a park in Paris.
But these demure young women, with no previous art knowledge, managed to gather together probably the most important collection of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in the...Welcome to the bizarre world of Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), the quintessential naïve artist, and meet his oneiric, striped football players. You have entered the place where art history gains the voice it deserves. She began making clay figures as a child, mostly small animals, but her father was a poor Methodist minister who strongly opposed his daughter’s early interest in art. Savage’s facility in handling the clay medium is clearly demonstrated in her sensitive modeling of the boy’s broad features, deeply set eyes, and prominent ears.
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She won the Harmon Foundation's Otto Kahn Prize for her Head of a Negro, and promptly critiqued the director of the foundation for having low standards for Black art and art in general. Despite personal problems, she was, for the first time as an artist, commissioned by the Harlem Library for a bust of African American sociologist and civil rights activist William Edward Burghardt Du Bois.
For this occasion, she created a The sculpture and its title are obvious references to the homonymous song, which many consider as the Black national anthem. Eventually her talents took her far from the clay pits of the South. Proving herself worthy, she managed to complete her four-year curriculum in only three years.However, as talented as she was, people still saw her race as a disadvantage; being black was a burden manifesting itself in different ways within a highly racist America. This article was most recently revised and updated by She acquired 25 pounds of clay from a local potter and created models of ducks and chickens, which she showed at the West Paul Beach county fair. To support her family she took on work in the steam laundries, until she was commissioned to create a bust of the black advocate W. E. B. The fair superintendent, George Curry, was so impressed that he wrote Augusta Savage a recommendation to the well-known American sculptor Solon Borglum, and encouraged Savage to pursue an education in art. This initiated a series of frustrations that virtually forced Savage to end her career. For a black woman, one of the most disenfranchised and chronically scorned figures in history, it must have been nearly impossible.
The young artists she mentored during these years became no less than the next generation of great black artists, including Jacob Lawrence, Norman Lewis, and Gwendolyn Knight.In her 50's, Augusta savage bowed out of the New York art scene, moving upstate to a farm near the town of Saugerties, where she became a lab assistant in K-B Products' cancer research lab.
From overcoming oppression, to breaking rules, to reimagining the world or waging a rebellion, these women of history have a story to tell. Busts are usually synonymous with a certain kind of pompousness and authority on behalf of the sitter.
Art historian Richard Powell considered Savage a legend within African American history, an artist whose life was “full of struggle, perseverance and creativity, all mixed up.”*According to Augusta Savage’s official date of birth (February 29, 1892), she would have been 70 when she died of cancer, on March 27, 1962.Anastasia has a BA in English Language and Literature and is working towards a MA in Art History.
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