Archibald John Motley, Jr.
The Art Institute of Chicago, Restricted gift of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Field, Jack and Sandra Guthman, Ben W. Heineman, Ruth Horwich, Lewis and Susan Manilow, Beatrice C. Mayer, Charles A. Meyer, John D. Nichols, and Mr. and Mrs. E.B. Smith, Jr.; James W. Alsdorf Memorial Fund; Goodman Endowment.
Chicago painter Archibald Motley depicted the vibrancy of African American culture in his work, frequently portraying young, sophisticated city dwellers out on the town. In Nightlife, a view of a dance hall in the Chicago South Side neighborhood of Bronzeville, Motley employed a dynamic composition and heightened colors to express the liveliness of the scene. Although the figures appear stylized, the artist displayed a keen understanding of social interactions between men and women, which he particularly expressed through gestures and glances. Nightlife was the artist’s response to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, which entered the Art Institute’s collection in 1942 and fascinated Motley with its treatment of artificial light.