Moon over Harlem

  • William H. Johnson, Moon over Harlem, ca. 1943-1944, oil, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, 1967.59.577

Luce Center Label

Moon over Harlem commemorates the riots of 1943, when a confrontation between a white police officer, a black woman, and a black soldier resulted in a melee of fighting and burning that left several killed and hundreds wounded. William H. Johnson based the pairs of figures at the left and right margins on photographs of rioters arrested by white officers. But Johnson painted the police as black men, and the ground is strewn with empty liquor bottles, as if the artist wanted to suggest that the people of Harlem were brutalizing themselves through their own behavior.

Title
Moon over Harlem
Artists
Date
ca. 1943-1944
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
28 1/2 x 35 3/4 in. (72.5 x 90.8 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of the Harmon Foundation

Mediums
Classifications
Keywords
  • Landscape – celestial – moon
  • Figure(s) in exterior
  • Cityscape – New York – Harlem
  • State of being – evil – violence
  • Occupation – service – policeman
  • Figure group
Object Number
1967.59.577
Palette
URL
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI