ARCHIBALD MOTLEY, JR.

 

ARCHIBALD JOHN MOTLEY, JR., was born in Chicago on October 7, 1891, and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and in France. His outstanding teachers were Karl Buehr, John Norton and Albert Krehbiel. He has painted in practically all parts of the United States and in France. He is a member of the Illinois Academy of Fine Arts and has exhibited in all the leading American cities and, abroad, in Copenhagen, Munich and Stockholm. A one-artist exhibition of his work has been held in The New Gallery of New York. He has won the following awards: The Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Logan medal and prize at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1925, the Joseph N. Eisendrath prize at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1925, the Harmon Foundation Gold Medal and prize in 1928 and the John Simon Guggenheim Foreign Traveling Scholarship with a stipend of $2,500 in 1929. A work of his was voted the most popular painting in an exhibition of contemporary American art at the Newark Museum in 1927. He is represented in the private collections of Ralph Pulitzer, Carl Hamilton and John E. Nail, of New York City, and Mrs. T. M. Murray, of Boston, Mass. His work has been written about in the American Magazine of Art, the American Federation of Arts Annual, the Survey Graphic, Opportunity, The Museum of Newark, The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine and various newspapers. Among the writers who have commented on his work are: C. J. Bulliet, Helen Buchalter, Edward Alden Jewell, Marguerite B. Williams, Tom Vickerman, Grace R. Clarke, Leila Mechlin, Robert D. Andrews, Frances Farmer, Sterling North, Russell Newcomb, Royal Cortissoz, Helen Appleton Read, Countee Cullen, Marc Connelly, Rian James, George W. Eggers, W. E. Du Bois, George S. Hellman, J. Z. Jacobson, Alain Locke and James Weldon Johnson.

To me, subject matter plays a most important part in my art. It is my earnest desire and ambition to express the American Negro honestly and sincerely, neither to add nor detract, and to bring about a more sincere and brotherly feeling, a better understanding, between him and his white brethren. I sincerely believe Negro art is some day going to contribute to our culture, our civilization. Form is essential to me only as a means of producing a pleasing composition; color being more important as an expression of the numerous shades and colors which exist in such great variety among Negroes. I never do any pure abstractions, as it seems there is so very much to see; and I find myself going on until I have carried my works far from an abstraction, although I have a keen appreciation of the abstract in art. I feel that my work is peculiarly American; a sincere personal expression of the age and I hope a contribution to society. I do not feel that there is anything in my work which is peculiar to Chicago, but it is, indeed, a racial expression and one making use of great opportunities which have long been neglected in America. The Negro is part of America and the Negro is part of our great American art. I am not influenced in producing my work by demands of galleries and the art market. I have always painted for the joy of painting, but it is impossible to shut the door on commercialism if one cares to exist. Criticism has had absolutely no effect on my work although I well enjoy and sincerely appreciate the opinions of others. I have been greatly influenced in my work by Frans Hals, Delacroix and Louis David, although it has never been my desire to copy them. I believe every artist should express his own soul. Archibald John Motley, Jr.

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