“Selling That Stuff”: Advertising Art and Early Blues on 78s
This chapter examines some aspects of African American visual art. It surveys the graphic art in newspaper advertisements for early blues recordings, with particular emphasis on the Paramount label's ads in the Chicago Defender. The art of the Race record advertisement was not the art of the Harlem Renaissance, which was not strong in illustration. The advertising art of the record companies was not visually and intellectually sophisticated; it was a form of popular art, developed for the propagation of a popular music for the members of what was, in half the nation, a segregated sector that was to suffer discrimination for another three to four decades. Just as the blues music of the period cannot be separated from its social contexts, so should the illustrations that helped in “Selling That Stuff” be similarly considered and evaluated.
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