New York City
Far more famous today than she was upon her death, Augusta Savage is considered a pioneer among female and African-American artists. Her wide array of sculptures won her acclaim during her early career, but poverty and the Great Depression waylaid her talent. Once she began her formal art education in New York City’s Cooper Union, she mastered coursework quickly and graduated a year early. Her career lagged because of both racism and sexism, but her talents were sought by civil rights leaders like Marcus Garvey and W.E.B DuBois. Her contribution to African-American artistic heritage is not limited to only her artwork, but the work she performed in educating and promoting other artists.
Her polished approach to sculpture is indicative of formal training, but much of her work contains a kinetic feel that defies the motionless medium. Figures display a variety of poses and emotions, some of them nearly indefinable (as in Gamin). Her presentation of human facial expressions is both subtle and personal, mirroring the woman herself. Although some of her work survives, much of it disappeared because of her financial crisis. Since the Great Depression created such a poor market for artists, her plaster sculptures rarely made it to bronze casts and soon after crumbled apart.
Gamin, painted plaster, 1929 (National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.). http://news.clas.virginia.edu/woodson/x16463.xml
The Diving Boy, bronze, 1939 (The Cummer Museum of Arts & Gardens, Jacksonville, Florida). http://www.cummer.org/art/permanent-collection/diving-boy
The Harp, painted plaster, 1939 (destroyed in 1939). http://www.1939nyworldsfair.com/worlds_fair/wf_tour/zone-2/the-harp.htm
La Citadelle Freedom, bronze, 1930 (Howard University, Washington, D.C.). http://healinghamlet.com/healing-through-art/augusta-savage/
The Biography Channel. “Augusta Savage.”2014.http://www.biography.com/people/augusta-savage-40495
Dort, Paul. “American Art Today: ‘The Harp’.” 2014. http://www.1939nyworldsfair.com/worlds_fair/wf_tour/zone-2/the-harp.htm
Encyclopedia Britannica. “Augusta Savage.” December 19, 2013.http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/525637/Augusta-Savage