Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist

When: Jan. 30-May 11 2014

If I could pick a historical year to spend in Paris, 1929 would be high on the list. That's the year that painter Archibald Motley, already known for capturing African-American life in Chicago in a stylized Modernist hand, won a Guggenheim Fellowship that funded an extended stay in the City of Light. His resulting kinetic, narrative-rich portraits of the Parisian Jazz Age dazzle with color and intrigue, penetrating the gaudy bustle to show life's fabric beneath. In 42 works spanning a career of more than 40 years, the Nasher presents Motley's long-deserved first retrospective, which will continue on to Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Fort Worth, Texas. The range of works shows how Motley's aesthetic changed with his many locales, rolling aspects of several early Modernist art movements into his unique style. Organized by Richard J. Powell, who teaches art history at Duke, Archibald Motley introduces a key early-20th-century figure to an audience that, frankly, should have known him all along. —Chris Vitiello

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