Sunday, September 25, 2011

Black Craze in Deco

Adored by Langston Hughes, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Christian Dior, Hemingway called her the most sensational woman anyone ever saw. American dancer, singer and actress Josephine Baker was idolized in her adopted homeland of France. She became an instant success in 1925 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées after her opening in La Revue Nègre in which she introduced a new dance called the Charleston. In a later run at the Folies Bergères she solidified her fame and set the standard for erotic dance reviews. Baker’s success coincided with the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs in 1925, an event which defined the term Art Deco, and in fortunate timing France was seeing a renewal of interest in ethnic art forms, particular those from Africa. As a result of this timing, Josephine Baker became a perfect model for the fashion and style popular in France.

Four years later, Baker’s one-time lover and lifelong friend Paul Colin published a portfolio of lithographs called Le Tumulte noir (The Black Craze) which captured the exuberance of jazz music that so electrified Paris. Colin’s career in graphic design was launched by his poster advertising La Revue Nègre, one that was such a success he was asked to join the theater’s artistic staff. Twelve of the lithographs from Colin’s portfolio are shown below. The work was inspired by African sculpture, Cubism and the new Art Deco modernism.


  1. Love the lithographs--especially the first one. (As a side note, a fine actress from Baton Rouge--Lynn Whitfield--was in an acclaimed movie entitled The Josephine Baker Story.) What interesting years in Paris when all those dancers and artists and great writers populated that city after WWI.

  2. I have just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the hottest virtual strippers on my taskbar.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America