A new profile exploring the life, work and legacies of Josephine Baker has been added to the Black Atlantic Resource. This profile includes links to online videos of Baker’s performances including her infamous ‘Danse Banane’ at the Folie Bergere in 1927, and also footage of her singing ‘Haiti’ in the 1934 film Zou Zou. Linked to this new profile are related research articles including, art historian, exhibition curator, writer and lecturer, Petrine Archer’s article exploring the associated avant-garde arts movement ‘Negrophilia’.
Josephine Baker sent shockwaves throughout Europe and America when she began to perform in the 1920s, and has continued to provoke contrasting reactions ever since. Pablo Picasso called her ‘The Nefertiti of now’ representing her iconic status at the centre of the new craze, celebrating, but also often stereotyping, black cultures in early Twentieth Century Europe. One contemporary interviewer praised her performances with their new dance style as turning the established, ‘concept of rhythm and movement on its head’ while others have argued that Baker’s ‘initial success was achieved at the expense of her integrity and the principles of African Americans’ (Barnwell 1997).
A controversial figure, nevertheless Baker’s international influence and appeal to the present day make her a key figure when communicating, considering and celebrating black Atlantic cultures.
Take a look at our new Josephine Baker profile and continue the debate here…