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Article

“The Whole Ensemble”: Gwendolyn Bennett, Josephine Baker, and Interartistic Exchange in Black American Modernism

Department of English, Davidson College, Davidson, NC 28035-6927, USA
Humanities 2022, 11(4), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/h11040074
Received: 15 March 2022 / Revised: 19 May 2022 / Accepted: 25 May 2022 / Published: 21 June 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modernist Poetry and Visual Culture)
Since her debut in Paris in 1925 and meteoric rise to stardom, views of Josephine Baker have been dominated by the white artists and audiences who constructed her as an exotic “Other”. This article revisits the phenomenon of “La Bakaire” from the perspective of a Black female artist who witnessed her performance first-hand and participated in the same Jazz Age projects of fashioning New Negro womanhood and formulating Black Deco aesthetics. When Gwendolyn Bennett saw Baker perform, she recognized her as a familiar model of selfhood, fellow artist, and member of a diasporic Black cultural community. In her article “Let’s Go: In Gay Paree”, July 1926 Opportunity cover, and “Ebony Flute” column, she utilizes call and response patterns to transform racialized sexual objectification into collective affirmation of Black female beauty and artistry. The picture that emerges from Bennett’s art and writing is one of communal practices and interartistic expression, in which Baker joins a host of now-forgotten chorus girls, vaudeville actors, jazz singers, musicians, visual artists, and writers participating in a modern renaissance of Black expressive culture. View Full-Text
Keywords: Gwendolyn Bennett; Josephine Baker; Harlem Renaissance; New Negro movement; Black American modernism; Art Deco; Black Deco; poetry; visual arts; performing arts; interartistic; transmedia; call and response Gwendolyn Bennett; Josephine Baker; Harlem Renaissance; New Negro movement; Black American modernism; Art Deco; Black Deco; poetry; visual arts; performing arts; interartistic; transmedia; call and response
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MDPI and ACS Style

Churchill, S.W. “The Whole Ensemble”: Gwendolyn Bennett, Josephine Baker, and Interartistic Exchange in Black American Modernism. Humanities 2022, 11, 74. https://doi.org/10.3390/h11040074

AMA Style

Churchill SW. “The Whole Ensemble”: Gwendolyn Bennett, Josephine Baker, and Interartistic Exchange in Black American Modernism. Humanities. 2022; 11(4):74. https://doi.org/10.3390/h11040074

Chicago/Turabian Style

Churchill, Suzanne W. 2022. "“The Whole Ensemble”: Gwendolyn Bennett, Josephine Baker, and Interartistic Exchange in Black American Modernism" Humanities 11, no. 4: 74. https://doi.org/10.3390/h11040074

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