His paintings have a clear cubist influence, one that figuratively evokes Modigliani in some works, while others embody the modernist aesthetic of Henry Moore. Alston was originally from Charlotte North Carolina and moved to Harlem in the early 1900s after his mother remarried into Romare Bearden’s family (the two are cousins). Bearden and Alston’s close relationship led to their joint work in Spiral in the 1960s, but decades before that his unique collaboration with Hale Woodruff would bring his work West to Los Angeles where the two collaborated on the Golden State Mutual’s mural which was installed in the insurance company’s headquarters in 1949.
The piece blended both of their distinct styles in a two panel historical narrative of California, colonization and migration.
*Correction: This post originally published with a copy of Hale Woodruff’s Settlement and Development, 1949 in error. The image has been corrected. To see Hale Woodruff’s contribution to the Golden State Mural, please see the Artist a Day post for 2/4/19.