Archibald Motley

Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist
Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
November 14, 2013 – May 11, 2014

Archibald Motley
Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, the first retrospective of the American artist’s paintings in two decades, will originate at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University on Jan 30, 2014, before embarking on a national tour.

Despite the broad appeal of his paintings, Motley is one of the least visible 20th-century artists. Many of his most important portraits and cultural scenes remain in private collections; few museums have had the opportunity to acquire his work. With a survey that spans 40 years, Archibald Motley introduces his canvases of riotous color to wider audiences and reveals his continued impact on art history.

The exhibition includes 42 works from each period of Motley’s lifelong career, from 1919 to 1960. Motley’s scenes of life in the African American community, often in his native Chicago, depict a parallel universe of labor and leisure. His portraits are voyeuristic but also examinations of race, gender and sexuality.

The exhibition also features his noteworthy canvases of Jazz Age Paris and 1950s Mexico, as well as works that address slavery and racism.

These significant works will be on view together for the first time. The exhibition will be on view at the Nasher Museum through May 11, 2014.

“We are extremely proud to present this dazzling selection of paintings by Archibald Motley, a master colorist and radical interpreter of urban culture,” said Sarah Schroth, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director of the Nasher Museum. “His work is as vibrant today as it was 70 years ago. With this groundbreaking exhibition, we are honored to introduce this important American artist to the general public.”