The Harlem Renaissance


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     Cultural developments do reflect American society as much as government policies or maybe more. Much of the literature, art, and music emerging during the first half of the twentieth century came from African Americans, but people of all races and cultures were involved. Films also reflected society a lot during this time.
     The Harlem Renaissance was a movement that gave black people a cultural uniqueness though literature and art. Most of the literature focused on realistically portraying black life, life in the ghetto, and other black issues. Langston Hughes was one of the major black writers to emerge from this movement. Hughes was a great writer with much diversity in his types of writings. He wrote plays, novels, poems, essays, short stories, and much more. Most of his writings were of the realities of black life, racism, ghetto and slum life, no jobs for black man and much more. Painters used improvisational style of art. Many of the painters used African subjects and designs in their paintings, such as Palmer Hayden. American society is reflected greatly in all the forms of art in the Harlem renaissance.
     Also emerging at the same time as the renaissance was a new music form called jazz. Jazz groups usually were made up of several trumpets, saxophones, some string instruments, piano, and drums. At this time whites were very interested in the exoticness of the black race, and jazz was a new exotic form of music that many whites liked. It was different then most other music of the time because of its fast paced rhythm, and swinging beat. Jazz reflects society by adding to the growing cultural uniqueness of black people emerging. It was another exotic form of art that made many people enjoyed. Louis Armstrong and Joe "King" Oliver were among the most famous to emerge from this style of music.
Another art movement that reflected society from 1908 though the early 1920’s, though briefly touched on in class, was Ashcan School of Arts. They painted in the impressionistic form. Painters like Robert Henri, Arthur B. Davies, and painted on the realities of urban life. Paintings were usually of the slums and ghettos, or portraying some form of poverty of the city life. This form of art was based on reflecting societies poverty and urban life by putting them into paintings, and making something beautiful out of something ugly. It showed middle and upper class people what life actually was like for people in the slums.

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