Loïs Mailou Jones
Les Fetiches 1938
Oil on linen, 53.3 x 64.7cm
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution,USA
Museum Purchase made possible by Mrs. N.H. Green,
Dr. R. Harlan, and Francis Musgrave.
© the artist



Loïs Mailou Jones
(born 1905)

Loïs Mailou Jones has enjoyed a long and Prolific career as an artist and has lived and worked extensively in France, Haiti and Senegal, as well as the USA. As Professor at Howard University, Washington DC for forty-seven years, until 1977, Jones was an inspiration to many, including Elizabeth Catlett and art historian David C. Driskell.

"Loïs Mailou Jones's 1938 Les Fétiches departed dramatically from these earlier depictions of Africa and Africans. The Paris based African American painter has merged an African art 'legacy' with the surrealistic tendencies of l'art nègre, reinvigorating the African mask, sculpture and spirit and transforming them from objects of a French colonial fixation to expressive yet problematic components of a modern black identity. Like the poetry produced under the African and Caribbean literary movement known as Negritude, Les Fétiches emphasised Africa's rhythmic and mythic dimensions (as pioneered in Lindsay's 'The Congo') but also attributed a deeper meaning to the continent, a process of reclamation where artefacts, atmosphere and a heightened consciousness created a new sense of what it meant to be 'African' (or 'black') in the twentieth century."

Richard J. Powell, 'Re/Birth of a Nation',
Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance


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