Aaron Douglas (May 26, 1899 – February 3, 1979) was an African-American painter and a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Aaron Douglas was born in Topeka, Kansas, to Aaron and Elizabeth Douglas. He developed an interest in art during his childhood and was encouraged in his pursuits by his mother. Douglas graduated from Topeka High School in 1917. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1922. In 1925, Douglas moved to New York City, settling in Harlem. Just a few months after his arrival he began to produce illustrations for both The Crisis and Opportunity, the two most important magazines associated with the Harlem Renaissance. He also began studying with Winold Reiss, a German artist who had been hired by Alain Locke to illustrate The New Negro. Reiss’s teaching helped Douglas develop the modernist style he would employ for the next decade. Douglas’s engagement with African and Egyptian design brought him to the attention of W. E. B. Du Bois and Dr. Locke, who were pressing for young African American artists to express their African heritage and African American folk culture in their art.
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