Biography: Reiss emigrated from Germany in 1913 where he trained and was practicing as a portrait painter. Reiss quickly became part of the emerging modern movement—making illustrations for modern “little magazines,” including The Masses, and even founding one, Modern Art Collector, in 1915. He also made illustrations and covers for mainstream mags like Harper’s and Scribner’s, and designed interiors for restaurants and hotel rooms, in a style influenced by Vienna Secession.
Reiss had moved to the US wanting to paint American Indians, and indeed his hundreds of portraits of the Blackfeet of Montana are among the things for which he’s best known.
He is also recognized for is his deep involvement with the Harlem Renaissance. He made portraits of black leaders for Langston Hughes’ seminal article and book, The New Negro. His distinctive modern style appeared in the Survey Graphic and other African American periodicals, and Reiss trained Aaron Douglas.