The ground-breaking exhibition Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist created an opportunity for Columbia College Chicago and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to collaborate.
Faculty member Amy Mooney, a scholar on Motley’s work, has connected faculty, staff and students to this artist’s work, curating a dynamic series of citywide programs that will unfold over the course of the exhibition. This page provides updates on the latest performances as well as curricular materials developed to support investigation of this innovative artist.
The themes of Motley’s work—identity, migration and social change—continue to resonate with contemporary audiences. From spoken word to jazz choreography, we will engage the historic context of Motley’s era, paying tribute to the artist’s unique vision. Following our college’s mission of embracing cultural diversity and civic engagement, we will teach, tap and collaborate with partners across the city to bring forth new work that connects the past with the present, providing inspiration for the future.
The exhibition Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist includes 42 oil paintings by this modern master, ranging from hyper-realistic portraits to vibrant street scenes in Chicago, Paris and towns in Mexico. Archibald Motley (1891-1981) was one of the first African-American artists to graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and achieve international acclaim. Focusing on African-American subjects, Motley’s paintings reflect an era of change, from the Great Migration to the Chicago Renaissance to the seeding of the Civil Rights Movement. His unflinching investigations of race, class and gender remain relevant and inspiring. Like his contemporaries across the disciplines of literature and music, Motley imaginatively experimented with the formal qualities of his craft, imbuing his canvases with intense chroma, exaggerative gestures and rhythmic compositions.
Curated by Dr. Richard Powell and originating at the Nasher Museum at Duke University, the exhibition has traveled to the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. After its installation at the Chicago Cultural Center, the exhibition will end its tour as one of the inaugural shows for the new Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist is organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. This exhibition is made possible by the Terra Foundation for American Art; the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor; and the Henry Luce Foundation. Major support is provided by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art. Video content courtesy of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist is showing March 7-August 31, 2015, at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Chicago.