When France Was Home to African-American Artists

Everything was open to them in postwar Paris, as a new exhibit in New York proves

The Studio Museum of Harlem in New York City has mounted an exhibition on an interesting but little-known chapter in the history of American art. Entitled "Explorations in the City of Light: African-American Artists in Paris, 1945-65," the show presents 70 paintings and sculptures by seven artists, all of whom worked in France after the end of World War II.

The artists whose works are featured Lois Mailou Jones, Herbert Gentry, Ed Clark, Harold Cousins, Larry Potter, Beauford Delaney and Barbara Chase-Riboud found a stimulating art scene in France, as well as a sense of freedom that they had not experienced in the United States.

Some came over with the aid of educational grants or funds from private patrons, while others were supported by the G.I. Bill. One of them, Herbert Gentry, ran a Left Bank nightclub called Chez Honey, a popular watering hole for artists and jazz aficionados. The exhibit, which will travel nationally, remains in New York City until June 2.

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