Into Bondage (1936) by Aaron Douglas

Into Bondage - Aaron Douglas - 1936

Artwork Information

TitleInto Bondage
ArtistAaron Douglas
Date1936
Mediumoil
Dimensions153 x 153 cm
Art MovementArt Deco, Synthetic Cubism, Harlem Renaissance
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About Into Bondage

Into Bondage is an oil on canvas painting by Aaron Douglas, a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance. The painting portrays African men and women who are shackled and solemnly walking towards the slave ships waiting on the horizon. Douglas uses elements of Cubism and African motifs to create unique radiating circles and silhouetted forms with few interior details. This technique creates a visually stunning composition that emphasizes the gravity of slavery.

The use of reddish-orange manacles and star with misty blues, mauves, and lavenders provides a striking contrast that draws attention to the brutal reality of enslavement. Through his art, Douglas addresses issues around slavery, segregation, and race. Aspiration and The Negro’s Gift to America are two other paintings within Douglas’ cycle that relate to Into Bondage thematically. As an artist who painted murals and created illustrations for publications during his career, Aaron Douglas played a crucial role in establishing greater representation for African American artists through his works that addressed social issues around race.

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