Born in 1891 in New Orleans and raised in Chicago, Motley knew as a child that he wanted to be an artist.
He studied art at the Institute of Chicago and in 1928, became the second African American artist to have
a solo exhibition in New York City. Motley's early artistic endeavors include "Old Snuff Dipper", a realistic
portrait a working class southerner that won a Harmon Foundation award. After winning a Guggenheim Fellowship
in 1929, Motley left for Paris where he painted Parisian genre scenes, including "Blues". When Motley returned
to Chicago in 1930, he began painting portraits and genre scenes of the African American community in Chicago's
Bronzeville neighborhood, home to most of the city's African American population. Although he never lived in Harlem,
his depiction of contemporary African American social life identified him with the Harlem Renaissance.
Old Snuff Dipper (1928)
Archibald Motley on PBS
Online NewsHour: Harlem Renaissance