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Jitterbugs (II)

ca. 1941 William H. Johnson Born: Florence, South Carolina 1901 Died: Central Islip, New York 1970 oil on paperboard 24 x 15 3/8 in. (61.0 x 39.1 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Harmon Foundation 1967.59.611 Not currently on view

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William H. Johnson created four paintings of the jitterbug, a dance craze that came out of Harlem and made its way into America's "swing" culture just before the Second World War. Here, the woman dips dramatically into the arms of her partner so that the two figures become one shape of contrasting colors and patterns. Sharp angles and spiraling patterns on the floor and walls emphasize the fast, athletic pace of skilled dance partners.


Ethnic - African-American

Figure group

Object - musical instrument - trumpet

Recreation - dancing


paint - oil