Ernest Crichlow, Harlem Renaissance artist, dies

“I never say ‘art,’ I say ‘life’ because that’s what my art is. It’s everybody’s art whether they realize it or not. That’s what art is, it belongs to everyone.”-Ernest Crichlow (1914-2005)

Ernest Crichlow, an artist of the Harlem Renaissance era, died on November 10 of heart failure in a New York hospital. He was 91 years old.The Harlem Renaissance exploded with creative efforts from African Americans in all fields of art.

Born in 1914, Crichlow had showed signs of a talent in art from a young age, but it was in the era of the Harlem Renaissance that this artist would tap into the imaginative energy that was revolutionizing the African-American community, and come into his own.

To prefect his craft, Crichlow studied with Augusta Savage at The Uptown Art Laboratory (which was attended by many other Harlem Renaissance artists), as well as New York University and the Art Students League. Later on in his career he taught at a number of institutions including NYU, the Brooklyn Museum art school, and Shaw University in North Carolina.Much of Crichlow’s work displays social realism, a style of art in which focuses on social issues and the hardships of everyday life.

Many of his pieces also had political edge. Crichlow started his work at a time when black artists went unrecognized, and in his early career in the 1940’s and 1950’s his work was mainly displayed in the Northeast. Since then, his pieces have been featured in the Afro-American Artists Museum in Philadelphia, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, Newark Museum, New York World’s Fair and the Institute of Modern Art, Boston, and other venues across the nation as well as private collections.

Crichlow co-founded the Cinque Gallery in New York, with Romare Bearden, was once a director of the Society for American Culture, and was a member of Black Academy of Arts and Letters.Crichlow will be remembered in galleries and classrooms for his innovative art.