Clément Morro, Revue moderne illustrée des arts et de
la vie, 15 mai 1934:
"Cette jeune artiste a envoyé à cette exposition (Exposition d'aquarelles et de
miniatures de Philadelphie) une intéressante composition évoquant, avec autant de
sensibilité que de juste équilibre, la vision claire et colorée d'un petit village de
pêcheurs, avec ses modestes constructions, ses appontements de bois et les barques à
l'ancre reflétant leurs silhouettes peintes dans l'eau à peine agitée de légers
Ses diverses expositions dans de nombreux centres américains ont fait apprécier son
talent de dessinateur et d'aquarelliste
Dorothy Adlow, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 February 1939:
"That Miss Jones has human interest we have no doubt, for she indicates it warmly
in her potraiture."
While in Paris, she was imbued with the qualities which the Impressionists
sought to achieve through painting with broad brushwork, in summary patches of color which
catch the effect of sunlight upon surfaces. Miss Jones is an Impressionist without the
strict methods of divided color
Particularly discerning judgement is reflected by the words of James W. Lane, curator
of painting in the National Gallery of Art:
Gods gift to Lois Jones is a beautiful sense of color. Like a singer who
always sings true, this well-trained painter--and she has studied under Philip Hale, Jonas
Lie, and the académie Julian--shows true color harmony in her oils. But that is not
Gods only gift: He has given her a sense of structure and design (which she uses in
her textile patterns) that carries the color to victory, for unorganized color alone could
possibly not do the trick. Her work, from her earliest still-lifes and her prize-winning
portrait French Mother, has, one sees, been responsive to light and the joyousness of
light, but where the fine cityscapes of her Paris period were charming and grey, the
landscapes, the portraits, and the still-lifes from Marthas Vignard are clarion and
colorful. It is all in the best sense of the word, happy art."
The Times Herald, 2 November 1940:
"First honors go to Lois M. Jones
The winning painting was entitled French
Mother and was an appealing portrait of a French woman with her child." (The 6th
Annual Metropolitan State Art Contest, National Museum of Art, November 1940.)
A.D. Emmart, The Sunday Sun (Baltimore), 21 May 1944:
"Lois M. Jones unrehtorical Mob Victim
There is a union of
delicacy of perception and interpretation with a highly effective but disciplined sense of
Florence Bergman, The Sunday Star, 25 June 1944:
"Mob Victim, by Lois Mailou Jones of Howard Universitys Art
Department, one of the best figure paintings in the show, is tragic in its
implications." (Solo exhibition at Vose Art Gallery, Boston, MA.)
Cédric Dover (Galerie internationale), February 1961:
"They (Jones paintings) are the work of a confident artist, widely
experienced and securely trained at Boston, Washington, New York and Paris, but they are
also the work of a truly lovely Person with an urging love of life which goes beyond
people and places to all living things.
It is this embracing love, charged with tenderly revealing power, that makes Lois
Mailou Jones a painter of such exceptional and evocative quality. It gives her the
humanistic depths so evident in her freedom from individualistic pretentions, her
responsive mastery of colour, her controlled feeling for warmth and symbolism in design,
her lively expression of light--and no one can paint the magic of light unless, in Sir
Kenneth Clarks perceptive phrase, it is an expression of love."
This love begins with her proud and sensitive concern for her own people. Among her
many pictures of the American Negro scene, we see it, for example in the early genre
portrait of Jennie, which I had the privilege of reproducing in American Negro
Art. More than a message, it is a complete visual statement with a quiet
yet highly emotionalizing and persisting force."
Overflowing outwards, her love was moved in far directions and communicated what has
contained in a surprisingly native way. Indeed her landscapes and genre pictures in France
(and the French scene has defeated innumerable foreign artists) are those of a Frenchwoman
happily, sometimes sadly, in love with what she sees. They are, as the reproductions in
her exquisite Peintures 1937-1951 show, utterly and astonishingly French.
It follows that in Haïti, where French survivals and Négritude are dominant
influence, Lois Jones has advantages of vision, personal associations, emotional
attachements and artistic background which raise the pictures hung here above the
awareness of the visiting artist. They bring the Haïtian scene, with something
indefinably more than its charm and colour, its green and blue tropicality, its boats and
markets, its gaiety and underlying sorrows, to the walls of this gallery
Gilbert Gratiant (Galerie Soulanges, Paris), January 1966:
"The symbols, allegories and mysteries of the Voodoo religion are one of the
sources of her inspiration, but the other one and a far more important one in my eyes, is
the very working people of haïti, faithfully pictured out within the magnificient
environments of the Caribbean Islands as well as throughout the pathos of their every day
The artists sensibility in her quality of a coloured woman herself, fell in
harmony with her personages and was made a servant to whatever patent sympathy the street
scenes evoked. Accurate as it is in design and so vividly colourful, Lois Mailou
Jones painting creates deep emotion.
Yet without any visible effort most paintings reach a great value as pure ornaments or
things of beauty--as the English poet styles it, in spite of a conspicuous
faithfulness to reality as it appears to the looker-on or the student of popular
LAmateur dart, 10 February 1966:
Her canvases hold the attention by their expressive force. The mystery and
the soul of Haïti appear through them. Some gouaches handled with vigor revive daily
scenery of the Haïtian life where as some oils evoke the religious mystery conferring an
enigmatical and disturbing aspect."
Jacques Michel, Le Monde 11 February 1966:
"Born in Boston, Lois Mialou Jones exhibits her Haïtian sceneries with verve and
with an abundance of colors, naturally harmonized to the subject. She observes the people
who run in the markets, the streets and the ports with a tender eye and her painting is
like a sympathetic song. Also we will notice a few abstract canvases representing Voudou
symbols from which a collage recalls the cubist style."
J. J. Lévèque, Arts, 16 February 1966:
"Lois Mailou Jones with an angular and brisk writing handles scenery of exotic
character. She tends to substitute to the form which she knows how to stylize. The
immediate and vivacious effect expressive and decorative of the color."
Art News, 1968:
Lois Mailou Jones is a mature, experienced painter who prefers a literal
inspection of nature and events, tempered by a personal lyric vision
Kathleen Ayres, USIS Feature, 1968:
"It is no surprise to anyone who knows Lois Mailou Jones that her painting has
been called, happy art. For joie de vivre, a warm friendliness and
instinctive belief in the goodness of people and the world are salient characteristics of
this talented American Negro artist
She is well known to art lovers for the work she
has done in France and Haïti as well as her homeland."
Leslie Judd Portner, The Washington Post 1968:
Lois Mailou Jones is moving from an impressionist technique to one which
strongly accented patterns which is particularly attractive
Vodou is an oil collage in a sophisticated cubist manner, but with voodoo as its
Edmund B. Gaither, Curator,
Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, 1972:
"Lois Mailou Jones is one of the few figures in American art to achieve a long,
exciting and inspiring career in which there is no room for defeat, dullness and trickery.
Whether it is the Lois Jones of the fifties and sixties watching Peasants on Parade,
Haïti, or the Lois Jones of today reflecting on Dahomey or the Ubi Girl
from Tai Region, it is always the Lois Jones in full control of her design and her
Museum School News, (School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), Winter/Spring 1988:
" Ubi Girl from Tai Region (1970), from the Boston Museums permanent
collection, combines a realistic frontal portrait of a contemporary African woman
(rendered in classical Western technique) with a painted rendition of an African sculpture
(in profile) against a background of geometric patterning. In his Boston Phoenix
review, art critic David Bonetti commented insightfully about this particular painting and
its combination of realistic modeling and flat abstraction: The face seen
simultaneously from the front and the side is a Cubist device, but Jones understands the
Cubism, the revolutionary movement initiated by Pablo Picasso that transformed Western art
(and made obsolete the training Jones herself received in Boston and Paris) was rooted in
African aesthetics, and she brings it back to its source
Ubi Girl is a moving
painting that shows an artists growth and understanding of complex cultrural
Mob Victim (1944) is an important painting that derives not from Lois
Jones travel abroad, but from her very personal experience of being a black American
growing up in a segregated and racial society. Painted entirely with a palette knife, Mob
Victim was hailed as the most emotional statement in the exhibition by New
York Times critic Allan Gold in his review of the Massachusetts Masters show at the Museum of Fine Arts."
Alice Thorson, The Washington Times, 27 October 1988:
Lois Mailou Jones, 58 Years of Watercolors 1930-1988, on view
at Brodys Gallery (1706 21 St. NW) through October 29, is a provocative travelogue.
It records a lifetimes worth of journeys both physical and intellectual. For 47
years an esteemed professor at Howard University, Ms. Jones boasts an exhibition record
nearly as vast as her travels.
The earliest works in the show, Negro Shack I and II, Sedalia, NC date from
1930. Realistically rendered records of rural poverty in the segregated South, they evince
a quiet social awareness and knack for capturing the spirit of a place.
While slightly influenced by Impressionism, the artists retained her commitment to
realism during a sabbatical visit to Paris, here represented by several street scenes. A
selection of works from the artists many visits to the Caribbean with her Haïtian
artist husband deftly illustrates the development of her style, from faithful renderings
to lively expressions.
Displaying an overall loosening of approach and an eye for incident, the charming
Rue lHotel de Ville, Provence (1958) anticipates this turn, which emerges
full-blown in the 1980 watercolors of Haïti. These close-ups of thatched huts and their
inhabitants fizz with graphic energy and high-key color.
Ms. Jones visit to Africa during the 70s inspired such imaginative works as
Magic of Nigeria, an inventive compendium of images reflecting her lifelong
interest in masks and textiles.
Commemorated in Homage to Martin Luther King Jr., the racial realities of the 60s America must have been particularly painful to one who had so often managed to
venture outside this culture. But the 1988 We Shall Overcome embodies a surety that
change is possible.
Scenes of Marthas Vineyard (a fondly remembered childhood haunt), and several
views of Washington Street life during the 40s complete this rewarding overview. The
fact that it leaves us longing for a full-fledged retrospective is the measure of its
© 1999 Howard University Washington, DC
HOWARD UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES, 500 Howard Place, NW, Washington, DC 20059. Phone (202) 806-7234.
Photographs by Mohamed Mekkawi. Commissioned by the Artist
Produced by Mod Mekkawi