Harlem didn't only shuffle; EXHIBITIONS

The Harlem Renaissance was an important cultural movement, but did it see the birth of a new, `black' art?

Arts: Bohemian rhapsodies

The importance of the Harlem Renaissance - the explosion of African- American talent during the 1920s and 1930s - is not widely recognised over here. A new exhibition should change that. By Phil Johnson

TALKIN' ABOUT A CULTURAL REVOLUTION

With the dawning of the Jazz Age in the early 1920s, African-American artists, writers and musicians flocked to one district of New York - Harlem. A city within a city, this "Mecca of the New Negro" became the centre for a cultural revolution, with artists such as Duke Ellington and Bessie Smith, Langston Hughes and Aaron Douglas converging in an extravagant blossoming of talent. Rhapsodies in Black, a new multi-media exhibition at London's Hayward Gallery, celebrates this crucial moment in modern American history. While archive film, music and photographs recreate the excitement of 1920s Harlem, canny transatlantic curation considers the work of African-American painters (see front cover), and sculptors in the light of a black diaspora that spread way beyond Harlem's three square miles. James VanDerZee's remarkable photographs (left) provide a snapshot of a boom town. Home to actor Paul Robeson and dancer Josephine Baker, its jumping, jazzy nightlife fascinated cultural tourists such as Edward Burra and rebel heiress Nancy Cunard, while white hepsters packed out the Cotton Club, a segregated venue where the racial division fell neatly into talented black musicians and their pasty Prohibition audiences. Bursting with creativity, "Renaissance" Harlem meant, according to poet Langston Hughes, that it was suddenly "in vogue to be a Negro", yet many of the African-Americans who moved there were escaping the racial persecution of the Deep South. Rarely seen paintings by artists such as Jacob Lawrence illustrate how this new generation expressed a new racial pride. For the first time, artists were defining themselves, rather than mimicking European styles or watching themselves caricatured by white artists. Along with two 11ft canvases from Harlem's public library which haven't been seen for over 50 years, Rhapsodies in Black will feature a segment from the first African-American feature film, and swinging sounds of blackness curated by blues man Paul Oliver. "Let's do the impossible. Let's create something trancendentally material, mystically objective ..." said artist Aaron Douglas in 1926. No doubt the Hayward is hoping their new display will do the same.

Travel: THE NEW HEYDAY OF HARLEM

In the Thirties Harlem was home to the hottest music and hippest writers and now, says resident Tessa Souter, it's enjoying a new revival. Go visit

'And, of course, we went to the shanty towns'

These days, right-on tourists visit the deprived side of cities because they want to do some good. They're fooling themseves, says Jeremy Atiyah

Blues in rhapsody

Roz Kaveney discovers the quiet genius of jazz whose work put Duke Ellington in the limelight; Lush Life: a biography of Billy Strayhorn by David Hajdu, Granta, pounds 16.99

RADIO : Suffer the little children

A child is trotting along a path when she sees a butterfly: running towards it, she might realise that it is not real, but painted on a small ball. If she decides to pick up this toy, she will never touch anything again, for, in her country, butterflies and stars decorate land-mines, specially to appeal to little enemy children.

Piling on the agony

Susie Boyt is simultaneously repulsed and impressed by the tale of a Harlem heroine; Push by Sapphire, Secker, pounds 7.99 How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry MacMillan, Viking, pounds 16

Arts: The gospel according to Anthony

From Mahalia Jackson to 'Death in Venice' might seem a long journey. But for Anthony Heilbut, the renowned gospel expert and author of a new biography of Thomas Mann, the connections are not so outlandish. By Barney Hoskyns

Hanging out in Harlem with dead presidents and dime pieces

Planning to hang out in Harlem any time soon? Well, B, you'd better learn the slang before you end up selling wolf-tickets to someone. That would be mad bad. And we don't want you getting bucked.

FASHION: BLACK TO THE FUTURE

In the Fifties, stylish Harlem women, excluded by the white rag trade, designed and modelled their own clothes - and helped launch a distinguished photographic career.

US reinvents the old-style school

Separate classes for boys and girls and wearing of uniforms are the new way to raise standards, reports David Usborne

Don't feed the pigeons

Mark Pappenheim on Houston Opera's tribute to Virgil Thomson

JP Morgan snatches a $1m steak in Harlem

CITY DIARY

Eight die after gunman runs amok in Harlem

RAYNER PIKE
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