Time will not permit, however, a personal account here of the influence that Porter had on my life as I have pursued both painting and writing, nor indepth commentary on the role of his own art in the making of what we now call the Black aesthetic. His writings were critical to those who sought to add clarity to the subject of Black identity and its relationship to cultural emancipation from a Eurocentric ideal in the decade of the sixties. Nearly fifty years after its original publication, Modern Negro Art remains the most often quoted source in the field. Thus, it is both fitting and proper that on the eve of its golden anniversary this classic work should be reissued, particularly as it's reprinting coincides with the opening of a major exhibition of Porterís art in retrospect. In this introduction, I shall attempt to highlight the salient contributions Porter made to the field of African American art scholarship, draw the contours of his successful career as a creative artist, and show how these pursuits fertilized each other.

     The fact that Porter was able to carve his own niche into the tableau of history at an early age and to produce the kind of scholarship in art that remains relevant today should come as no surprise to any one who has followed his career. From the outset, he contributed essays of revealing scholarly importance on the subject of the Negro in art that were published in The American Magazine of Art, Art in America, Opportunity Magazine, and other journals in the years prior to and immediately after World War II.



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February 2001