Negrophilia  

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Josephine Baker dancing the charleston at the Folies Bergère in Paris for La Revue nègre in 1926. Notice the art deco background. (Photo by Walery)
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Josephine Baker dancing the charleston at the Folies Bergère in Paris for La Revue nègre in 1926. Notice the art deco background.
(Photo by Walery)

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The word negrophilia is derived from the French negrophilie that literally means love of the negro. It was a term that avant-garde artists used amongst themselves to describe their passion for black culture. Negrophilia was a craze in 1920s Paris, when to collect African art, to listen to jazz and to dance the Charleston, the Lindy Hop or the Black Bottom, was a sign of being modern and fashionable. Sources of inspiration were inanimate African art objects (l'art nègre) that found their way into Paris as a result of colonial trade with Africa as well as live performances by African-Americans many of whom were ex-soldiers remaining in European cities after the First World War who turned to entertainment for a source of income. Perhaps the most popular revue and entertainer during this time was La Revue nègre (1925) starring Josephine Baker.

This fascination with black culture and a "primitivised" existence flourished in the aftermath of the First World War (1914–1918), when artists yearned for a simpler, idyllic lifestyle to counter modern life's mechanistic violence. Avant-garde artists recognised for their negrophilia interests were poet Guillaume Apollinaire, artists Tzara, Man Ray, Paul Colin and surrealists George Bataille and Michel Leiris (L'Afrique fantôme) and political activist Nancy Cunard.

See also

  • Negrophilia: Avant-Garde Paris and Black Culture in the 1920s (2000) by Petrine Archer-Straw.
  • Michel Fabre's From Harlem to Paris (91),
  • Tyler Stovall's Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light (96).

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Negrophilia" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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