The Boxer, James Richmond Barthé, 1942, Bronze, 47.6 x 30.9 x 17.6 cm
Countee Cullen, author
[May 30, 1903 – January 9, 1946]
Alain LeRoy Locke (1885 – 1954) was an American writer, philosopher, educator, and patron of the arts. He is best known for his writings on and about the Harlem Renaissance. He is unofficially called the “Father of the Harlem Renaissance”. His philosophy served as a strong motivating force in keeping the energy and passion of the Movement at the forefront.
Locke promoted African American artists, writers, and musicians, encouraging them to look to Africa as an inspiration for their works. He encouraged them to depict African and African American subjects, and to draw on their history for subject material.
“Beauty’s hair was so black… and soft… blue smoke from an ivory holder… was that why he loved Beauty… one can… or because his body was beautiful… and white and warm… or because his eyes… one can love…”
– Richard Bruce Nugent
Richard Bruce Nugent, 1936Photo: Carl Van Vechten
Richard Bruce Nugent [1906 - 1987] — writer, painter, illustrator, and popular bohemian personality — lived at the center of the Harlem Renaissance. Protégé of Alain Locke, roommate of Wallace Thurman, and friend of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, the precocious Nugent stood for thirty years as the only African American writer willing clearly to indicate his homosexuality in print. His contribution to the landmark publication FIRE!!, the prose composition “Smoke, Lilies and Jade,” was unprecedented in its celebration of same-sex desire.