Paintings during the Harlem Renaissance were meant to be very symbolic. Many African American painters such as Aarron Douglas and many other famous artists, thought that by using painting and visual arts, it helped send a message. In a new kind of way, in what they liked to call "The New Negro". Theses artists thought that they could show their feelings of hurt and discrimination from the white race, through these paintings. While also building a more black culture in America.
Johnson was born in January 1896 and grew up in the town of Greensboro North Carolina. He studidied at the National Academy of Design in New York City and was one of the first African American artist to explore the style of cubism through his paintings. Johnson was also known to be one of the youngest artist in the Harlem Renaissance, and was known for putting hints of his past African culture into the background of his paintings. He passed away in the year of 1934 at the age of 38, dying with the legacy of his paintings that still are seen in the Carolinas museums today.
"Negro Soldier" by Malvin Johnson (1934)
"Brothers" by Malvin Johnson (1934)
Johnsons famous paintings such as the ones above Symbol his out looks on African American lives in the untried states during this time. Johnson served in World War I in the 92nd division in France. The "negro soldier" could be thought to look a lot like himself in a way. And it is known for its non bias type. The soldier is sitting up right in a respectful manner, just like any other white soldier would be looked at as. This shows how Johnson portrayed that there's no difference from white and black soldiers, or at least there shouldn't be. His painting "Brothers" show a different type of aspect, the children are in clothes that seem to be made for manual labor, and by the expression on their faces it shows their emotions. The only family connection the image seems to show is "the younger brother leaning against his older brother". Which show that the younger boy feels protected by him.
Malvins Harlem Effect
Painters such as Johnson gave an effect that changed Americna culture as well as African culture. The introduction of music, arts and dance from a different perspective changed art as it once was. Black artists gave art a more upbeat view and a whole different scale of style that swept the country and gained blacks more respect because of these pieces.
Malvin Johnsons paintings contribute to what it means to be an American because at the time of the war everyone was fighting for something. Whether it was equal rights or better government, everyone in America was fighting for what they believed in. Malvin and other painters took it into a differ t perspective and showed America what their culture was all about. And this changed black citizens culture in the perspective of whites, in a better light.