Lois Mailou Jones

Lois Mailou Jones finds her own particular synthesis of personal and cultural imperatives. An artist who was almost a contemporary of Faith Ringgold, she shared some of Ringgold's interests - most notably, in textile arts. Mailou Jones began her career, in fact, as a dress and textile designer, and while engaged in this work, she became aware of and fascinated by African costumes and masks, the style of which soon entered her work as an important influence. Her work actually epitomizes the conflicting pulls being made on African-American artists at this time on the one hand, to paint in a style and with a subject that would appeal to the myth of an innate black primitivism or idiosyncratic black style, and on the other hand, to pursue personalized interests in a personal style. In her case, we might almost think there are two artists by her name: the one who successfully met the demands of her patrons for paintings of people and landscapes in a modernized academic style, and the one who pursued a bolder, more design-oriented path leading into the flattened, abstracted forms associated with textile art, cubism, and masks.

One of her landmark works, Les Fetiches, is thought to be the first work in which she responds to her personal desire to try to unite the two directions. The masks in the painting are from the Ivory Coast; the way in which she rendered them, although suggestive of the cubist flattening of planes, does retain a sense of volume and a degree of legibility which keeps it closer to the more academic style preferred by the Harmon foundation. At the same time that she was forging her own path in painting, she was also producing covers and illustrations for journals and books of the Harlem Renaissance. Ubi Girl from Tai Region, completed after a trip to Africa made when she was in her sixties, is not only a striking composition but a painting which successfully pulls http://www.radford.edu/rbarris/Women%20and%20art/amerwom05/harlemrenaissance.html
change photo
remove photo

First Collected by

Suzan Hamer


Collectors 5

Related Artists

+ add artist