Dans un Café à Paris (Leigh Whipper)
Loïs Mailou Jones
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, Beyond Borders and Boundaries, 20th and 21st Centuries
Here, Lois Mailou Jones painted Leah Whipper at the height of his career as a Broadway and Hollywood actor. Whipper would soon become famous for his role as Crooks in the 1939 film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. His character—a stable hand ostracized because of his race—served to illuminate the movie’s Depression-era message that the American Dream’s promise of economic and social success was impossible.
The artist’s portrayal of a pensive Whipper answered Alain LeRoy Locke’s call for Black artists to create ennobling representations of African Americans. Locke was an intellectual during the Harlem Renaissance, a movement of the 1920s and ’30s that resulted in a blossoming of African American culture.
Oil on canvas
36 x 29 in. (91.4 x 73.7 cm)
frame: 42 x 37 x 2 5/8 in. (106.7 x 94 x 6.7 cm) (show scale)
Brooklyn Museum Fund for African American Art and gift of Auldlyn Higgins Williams and E.T. Williams, Jr.
Loïs Mailou Jones (American, 1905-1998). Dans un Café à Paris (Leigh Whipper), 1939. Oil on canvas, 36 x 29 in. (91.4 x 73.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Fund for African American Art and gift of Auldlyn Higgins Williams and E.T. Williams, Jr., 2012.1. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2012.1_edited_version_PS6.jpg)
overall, 2012.1_edited_version_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
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© Estate of Loïs Mailou Jones, Loïs Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust
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