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Arts & Culture: Art Focus
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Take a look at life in Harlem in the late 1930s through Hayden's Midsummer Night in Harlem.




The Harlem Renaissance


Hayden was born Peyton Hedgeman in Wide Water, Virginia in 1890. His artistic name, Palmer Hayden, was taken from the corrupted pronounciation of Peyton Hedgeman by a commanding sergeant during World War I. Hayden was among the first African American artists to use African subjects and designs in his painting. His 1926 still life Fetiche et Fleurs highlights a Fang mask from Gabon and Bakuba raffia cloth from the Congo. It won the prestigious Harmon Foundation's Gold Award. With the award and with a grant from a patron, Hayden was able to continue his studies in Paris, where he further explored his interest in ethnic subject matter. He returned to the United States in 1932 and worked steadily over the next several years for the U.S. government, including the U.S. Treasury Art Project and the WPA. In his later works Hayden focused on the African American experience, capturing both rural gatherings in the South and the urban milieu of New York.

Related Artists:
Aaron Douglas
Archibald Motley
Ellis Wilson
Augusta Savage

Midsummer Night in Harlem (1938)
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Where'd You Git Them High Top Shoes? (1944-1947)
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Period & Artists
Pre-Civil War
Exploring Freedom
The Harlem Renaissance
Aaron Douglas
Palmer Hayden
Archibald Motley
Ellis Wilson
Augusta Savage
The Legacy
Social Activism
Modern Identities
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