"'Folk-lorist of the Brush and Palette': Winold Reiss's Illustrations for The New Negro, Paul Kellogg, Alain Locke, and Transcultural Modernity"
Paul Kellogg, editor of Survey Graphic (one of the leading journals for social workers and sociologists), invited the public intellectual Alain Locke (a Howard University philosophy professor) to edit a special issue on Harlem for the March 1, 1925, issue. Locke invited the German American artist and designer Winold Reiss to provide illustrations. The issue had a print run of more than 30,000 copies and was a critical success. Six months later a book, The New Negro: An Interpretation, edited by Locke, was published that expanded on the Survey Graphic issue. All three—Kellogg, Locke, and Reiss—embraced "transcultural modernity." "Transcultural" because each valued the ability to look with empathy at "the folk," "the people," and the cultural "others" and see yourself—without patronizing, sentimentalizing, or nostalgia. "Modernity" because the subjects were harbingers of what would be progressive, efficient, humanistic, and modern.
Sponsored by the Department of History of Art with additional support from the departments of American Culture and Afroamerican and African Studies.
Patricia Hills, professor of art history emerita, Boston University