In 1925, African American newspapers began reporting on Maurice Hunter’s work as a model for prominent visual and commercial artists, illustrators, and art students. By the 1950s, Hunter’s image had appeared on millions of advertising billboards, in all the major magazines, and in murals and statues in banks, parks, and department stores from Wall Street to Rochester to Cincinnati. Because no agency would represent a black model, Hunter was forced to raise his own public profile and create work opportunities. He did so by emphasizing his authenticity as a performer of nonwhite roles and at the same time his versatility as someone who could model for any role, including female and/or white. As well as permitting Hunter some degree of creative control over his work, his approach garnered him considerable esteem among elite African Americans. They also admired Hunter’s effort to control use of his image whenever photographed. This article examines Hunter’s labor, including his own effort to record it through scrapbooks he donated to the New York Public Library.

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