The economy in Paris was booming. It was an amazing comeback after the first World War. Paris was a happy place. Parisians began to embrace anything that was new and depicted freedom. Maybe that’s why the avant-garde became so popular. Non-traditional art forms began to spring up. Dada, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Surrealism and eventually African.
AFRICA AND THE AVANT-GARDE
A popular vacation for wealthy Parisians, in the 1920’s, was the African safari. African masks and sculptures, as souvenirs and investments, were suddenly all over Paris. They were as popular as any painting by Pablo Picasso, who, became infatuated with Africa. The African obsession became widespread amongst avant-garde artists, including Paul Colin, Jean Cocteau, Michel Leiris and many others. Under this influence they created the word, Negrophilia. Which literally means, love of the negro. This period also lead to the influx of African immigrants.
LA REVUE NEGRE, JAZZ AND THE CHARLESTON
A group of African-American musicians, singers and dancers were assembled to create, La Revue Negre. The Negro Review. With them, in 1925, was a nineteen-year-old chorus girl named, Josephine Baker. Their mission. Introduce Paris to a brand-new music called jazz and a hot new dance called, the Charleston. Jazz musicians were known as improvisational artists, so once, again, freedom was the name the of the game. To Parisians, nothing represented freedom more than dancing the Charleston, often in the streets and without music. They would simply say to one another, “hey-hey”, and everyone danced to the music in their hearts.