The Ascent of Ethiopia

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Lois Mailou Jones (American, 1905–1998)
The Ascent of Ethiopia, 1932
Oil on canvas
23 1/2 × 17 1/4 in. (59.69 × 43.82 cm)
Purchase, African American Art Acquisition Fund, matching funds from Suzanne and Richard Pieper, with additional support from Arthur and Dorothy Nelle Sanders M1993.191
Photo credit: John R. Glembin
© Lois Mailou Jones Pierre-Noel Trust
Currently on View

“Being basically a designer,” Lois Mailou Jones once said, “I am always weaving together my research and my feelings.” In The Ascent of Ethiopia, the artist expressed the ideals of the Harlem Renaissance, which encouraged artists to use African imagery and symbols as a form of spiritual uplift, linking people of African descent with their historical past and their cultural present. In that vein, the painting’s undulating lines and vibrant blues and golds suggest the improvisations and rhythms of jazz.

Publication History
Haygood, Wil. I Too Sing America: The Harlem Renaissance at 100. 2018, p. 86, color illus.

Seaman, Donna. Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists. 2017, p. 102, b/w illus.

Hanzal, Carla M. and Edmund B. Gaither. Lois Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color. Charlotte, North Carolina: Mint Museum of Art, 2009, p. 24, 88, 110, illus.

Stewart, Marilyn G., and Eldon Katter. A Community Connection. Explorations in art. Worcester, Massachusetts: Davis Publications, 2009, p. 198, fig. 7-19.

Museum of the City of New York. Paris-New York: Design Fashion Culture, 1925-1940. New York: Monacelli Press, 2008, p. 100.

Earle, Susan, ed. Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist. Lawrence: Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, 2007, p. 42, color illus. fig. 16.

Zora!18th Annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, January 20 - 28, 2007, Eatonville/Orange County, Florida: cover, color illus.

Hirshler, Erica E. A Studio of Her Own: Women Artists in Boston 1870-1940. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2001, b/w illus. no. 137.

Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 143, color illus.

Visona, Monica Blackmun, et. al. A History of Art in Africa. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001, p. 500, cat. 15-1, illus.

Pile, Steve, Christopher Brook, Gerry Mooney, ed. Unruly Cities? London: Routledge, 1999, p. 22, b/w fig. 1.4.

Bailey, David A., et all. Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance. London: Hayward Gallery and University of California Press, 1997, fig. 38, color illus. p. 123.

Robinson, Jontyle Theresa. Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists. New York: Spelman College and Rizzoli International Publications, 1996, fig. 11, color illus. p. 107.

Benjamin, Tritobia Hayes. The Life and Art of Lois Mailou Jones. Rohnert Park, California: Pomegranate Artbooks, 1994, p. 26 and 131, color illus. cover and p. 24.
Exhibition History
Lois Mailou Jones, The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina, November 14, 2009-February 28, 2010.

Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, September 8-December 2, 2007.

The Great American Thing: Modern Art and National Identity, 1915-1935, Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa, August 28, 2005-January 1, 2006; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington, January 29-May 21, 2006.

Challenge of the Modern: African American Artists 1925-1945, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, January 23-April 6, 2003.

Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance, Hayward Gallery, London, June 19-August 17, 1997; Arnofini Gallery, Briston, England, September 6-October 19, 1997; Mead Gallery, Coventry, England, November 1-December 6, 1997; California Palace of the Legion of Honor, January 17-March 8, 1998; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, April 11-June 22, 1998; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 26-October 19, 1998; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, November 22, 1998-February 14, 1999.

African American Art: A Decade of Collecting, Milwaukee Art Museum, June 18-August 29, 1999.

The World of Lois Mailou Jones, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, September 1-December 1, 1994.

This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.