Henry Ossawa Tanner (June 21, 1859 – May 25, 1937) was an American artist and the first African-American painter to gain international acclaim. Tanner moved to Paris, France, in 1891 to study, and continued to live there after being accepted in French artistic circles. His painting entitled Daniel in the Lions’ Den was accepted into the 1896 Salon, the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Why I Love Him:
He captures moods and atmosphere with striking clarity. His work is lovely and I get a sense of calm by the cohesiveness of each piece of work. I had no idea a black man was ever in the Salon. We only hear of the old white guys, never anyone else. I don’t even know what else to say. Just look at his work.
I decided on the spot that I would be an artist, and I assure you, it was no ordinary artist I had in mind.
I will preach with my brush.
Many of the artists who have represented Negro life have seen only the comic, ludicrous side of it, and have lacked sympathy with and appreciation for the warm big heart that dwells within such a rough exterior.
Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet was a French painter who led the Realism movement in 19th-century French painting. Committed to painting only what he could see, he rejected academic convention and the Romanticism of the previous generation of visual artists.
Why I Love Him:
He’s cheeky. I didn’t add it, but I enjoy that he named a painting of a vulva “Origin of the World.” His seascapes with enormous skies and puffy clouds are just pretty. Woman with a Parrot and The Sleepers look like women who are comfortable in their own skin and even though they are nude, they aren’t concerned with the any men who may be looking. I’m sure it isn’t how he meant it, but I can see them as living in a world without men to bother them, unlike the women from Artemisia’s paintings which I like because they are showing the reality of a world with men in it.
The most important reason he is on this list is because he reminds me that titles are important to how a piece of work is perceived. I hate naming paintings and Origin of the World reminds me to have fun with it and give people another layer to consider.
When we see men of worth, we should think of equalling them; when we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inward and examine ourselves.
I hope to live all my life for my art, without abandoning my principles one iota.
The expression of beauty is in direct ratio to the power of conception the artist has acquired.
Have you decided who you would have in your squad? Tell me in the comments.