La Baker Redux

Josephine Baker by Huene, 1927
Josephine Baker by Huene, 1927

The perennial interest in our first black international star seems to be on an uptick again. Huffington Post put this style feature-ette about Josephine Baker up today–with a very glossed over mention of her “dark skin” when in fact the fairness of her skin was just as problematic: Colorism anyone?

Another post appeared on the Huffington site recently with a photo of La Baker in an ostrich-drawn carriage–yes, ostrich:

As specialist on this area, I find the enduring fascination with La Baker fascinating. In the public imagination and the scholarly literature, La Baker has become touchstone for the era that far exceeds in some respects the fame that she had during her heyday between the Wars.

A CATTY ASIDE: Various links on the site suggest the very real possibility that Rihanna may be tapped to star in a biopic (quel horreur!)

Family histories and interwar black history

I am tracking this project closely as this is a related sphere to my research on the US and France that has yet to receive much attention.

Drawing over the Colour Line: Geographies of art and cosmopolitan politics in London, 1919 - 1939

As our recent blog post shows, our contact with Nyay Bhushan, the great grandson of Vasu Deva Sharma, has been a fantastic opportunity for us to find out about Sharma’s migratory history and learn more about Sharma’s experiences of life as a Royal College of Art student in interwar London. We’ve created a select list of students and artist’s models all based in London during the period we are researching. If you have any information, no matter how small, about any of these individuals or the artworks they created please feel free to contact us at

Students from Africa and Asia at London-based art schools:

  • Egyptian student Aimee Nimr at Slade School of Fine Art School of Fine Art during 1919
  • Nigerian student Aina Onabolu at St. John’s Wood Art School during 1922
  • Indian student Meher Bomansha Dalal at the Slade School of Fine Art School of Fine Art…

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