Street Life, Harlem

  • William H. Johnson, Street Life, Harlem, ca. 1939-1940, oil, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, 1967.59.674

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The New York Amsterdam News reported in 1939 on the crowds gathering at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. The reporter described the "cock-eyed hats, perched at crazy angles on . . . shiny hair" and skirts "a tantalizing fraction of an inch below their knees" (Powell, Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson, 1991). In Street Life, Harlem, William H. Johnson portrayed an elegant couple dressed "to the nines" for an evening on the town.

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"I am feeling . . . that I would like my own homeland next, as I know of no better country to inspire me . . ." Letter from the artist, 1938, in Powell, Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson, 1991
Street Life, Harlem
ca. 1939-1940
On View
Not on view.
45 5/8 x 38 5/8 in. (116.0 x 98.0 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of the Harmon Foundation

  • Architecture Exterior – commercial
  • Cityscape – street
  • Cityscape – New York – New York
  • Ethnic – African-American
  • Cityscape – New York – Harlem
  • Cityscape – celestial – moon
  • Figure group
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI