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Archibald John Jr. Motley

  • CountryUnited States
  • Born1891
  • Died1981


Archibald J. Motley was an American painter who was one of the first of several artists to concentrate on African American life in his paintings. His work provided a foundation for much of the work that became identified with the Harlem Renaissance. Motley is best-known for his portraits and genre scenes of Chicago’s Black Belt.

His works have been shown in a number of international institutions including the Tate Modern, London (2017), as part of ‘Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power’ which explored the questions of identity and what it meant to be a Black artist in the USA during the Civil Rights movement and at the birth of Black Power movement between 1963 – 1983. His works have also been shown in the Whitney Museum of American Art (2015-2016), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, (2014-2015), Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina (2014) amongst others.

He was born in New Orleans but resided in Chicago. He became one of the first black artists to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago between 1914 -1918. In 1928, he became only the second black artist ever to have a one-man exhibition in New York City.

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