Happy Birthday to Famous African American Artist Eldzier Cortor born this day on January 10, 1916. He lived 99 years… one must believe Art extends your life.
Eldzier Cortor (January 10, 1916 – November 26, 2015) was an African-American artist and printmaker.
Early on he dreamed of becoming a cartoonist and took evening classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before enrolling full time in 1937.
He is considered to be the first African American artists to depict nude women as the central theme of his work. This was an unpopular choice for many artists at the time as a reaction to the dominant European and American cultural landscape at the time. This was also unfavored because of the historical legacy of the sexual exploitation of black women during slavery. Cortor refutes these notions by showing the nude black female body as a source of strength.
One of the most popular works by Cortor is The Room, which is a painting from a series of paintings of rooms, depicting scenes in the lives of people of the slum areas. [It] shows the overcrowded condition of people who are obliged to carry out their daily activities of life in the confines of the same four walls in a condition of utmost poverty.
One of his first moments of popular recognition came in 1946, when Life magazine published one of his figures, a seminude woman. He received prestigious fellowships — including the Guggenheim, which allowed him to travel to Cuba, Jamaica, and Haiti, where he was exposed to new examples of art and culture in the African diaspora.
“The idea is to get someone to pause awhile” instead of walking past a picture. Mr. Cortor said in the recent interview. “You try to just get them to stay with that painting for a while, you don’t just burst past it there. And that’s the idea. If you can get someone, to catch their eye a little bit.”