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Folk Festival Gathering

Folk Festival Gathering, 1971, Oil on Panel
Humbert Howard (American, 1915 – 1992)

Humbert Howard is an African American artist from Philadelphia. He studied art at Howard University, though he left the school and went on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania. Howard was an important figure in the Philadelphia art scene, acting as art director for the Pyramid Social Club. Howard’s exhibitions took crucial steps towards integration in the 1950s, as he chose work from white and black artists, focusing only on the work rather than the color of the artist’s skin.

In the 1930s and 40s Howard took classes at the Barnes Foundation, where he studied painting. The influence of the Barnes Collection, particularly the work of Fauvists like Matisse from the early 20th Century, is present in Howard’s work.  This piece illustrates these influences, as the subjects are rendered in bold strokes of color, with figures modeled in a style that skews towards abstraction rather than realism. Moreover, the background of sky is painted in numerous bold colors, conveying the vibrant energy of the festival.