The Negro Looks Ahead
1940, cast 1986
Bronze on marble base
Cast by The Art Foundry
16 x 10 x 10 in.
signed, l.l.: Barthe 86 ©
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
Racial discrimination prevented Barthé from receiving formal art training near his home in Louisiana, so in 1924 he moved to Chicago to enroll at the Art Institute there. After completing his studies, he left for New York City, where he joined the social world of the Harlem Renaissance—a flowering of Black art and literature rooted in the Great Migration of African Americans from the South during the early 20th century.
Barthé worked largely within the figurative conventions of classical sculpture, which he used to craft uplifting and dignifying portrayals of Black Americans. He explained that this particular sculpture was also meant to commemorate President Franklin D. Roosevelt. “I believed that the Negro advanced more under him than any other President since Lincoln,” he wrote, “so I did this piece of the Negro emerging out of his rough background with hope in the future.”
—Text taken from the Carter Handbook (2023)