In the early 1900’s African-American’s created a significant movement through music, art, poetry, and writing; it was not perceived as a form of “black” or African American art but instead as good art. Therefore, this surfaced the Harlem Renaissance era; it is known as the “New Negro Movement.” It established an evolution of American art through new ideas, and the conception of a new identity, an upbringing of a new cultural identity; ultimately, it presented a purpose for change.
The painting is called Jeunesse by Palmer Hayden. “Jeunesse” is the French word meaning youth; it can also translate to a new lease on life or a youthful indiscretion according to the Oxford Dictionary. In this piece there are two bodies who are the focal point for the viewers and these two people are placed in a position where they are surrounded by space; this free and open space that is constructed leaves other objects to be less of a significance and they become petite like their own existence shows a lack in improvisation. Therefore, these two unique dancers generate a form of ingenuity and disperse it amongst the audience; it becomes an expressive connection that observers can relate to.
The female in the white dress shows a curved stance and her body is twisted as if she is about to twirl again; her leg is curved at an angle and the male is holding her hand and this bond between each person embodies enjoyment. Therefore, the male illustrates the same thing as if he is emulating her motions; it builds into a profound relationship for each other to be subjective for one another. The couple portrays something else for the audience, and the music, dancing, and setting form a strong linkage. In addition, each feature of everyone in the painting are different: their skin color, the thick black hair, and intense eyes.
Palmer is able to depict the true spirit of Jeunesse: that is elation, welcoming, a colorful nature of everything that people can see. On the contrary, the individuals in the back of the painting are recognized as obscure and somber; their association with others is different from that of the couple. The figures surrounding the couple are closer together with one another and grasp onto each other; they also exemplify a distinct manner of dancing. Since these characters are more confined together they are gentle and linger amid the group. Within the figures and objects, the artist portrays a methodical approach to a diverse setting. He alters textures and produces heavy and bright strokes. Hayden includes a vivid portrait of liveliness in his characters and it becomes a window for the African-American experience. The artist utilizes an abundance of colors such as yellow, orange, red, and pink; it makes the picture stand out and it has a brighter appearance, these are warm colors. The background is a cool color and it has many hues of blue; however, the artist also uses numerous cool colors and he balances this throughout his painting. Hayden’s use of cool colors reveal a bitter and bracing kind of response once you look at it in several ways too. Neither colors overpower one another; the color blue is something that is relaxing and soothing. This as a result exposes a sense of calmness to observers. Hayden uses dimness upon his objects and the couple is excluded from that darkness.