Ken Tucker
February 18, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

After a while, you can’t help but think that too much time in Against the Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance (PBS, Feb. 16, 10-11 p.m.) is spent decrying the racism that made African-American artists’ lives difficult in the 1920s and ’30s, and not enough in displaying and appreciating the art they created. Despite its being a visual medium, television has done little to acquaint us with the fine arts-and this is particularly true in the matter of minority artists. Against the Odds would have made its points about art-world racism most effectively simply by exposing us to as many first-rate paintings and sculptures by little-known artists as possible. As it is, Against the Odds’ brief profiles of sculptor Augusta Savage and painter William Henry Johnson, both previously unknown to me and, I assume, to most viewers, made me want to see more of their work, which is the highest praise that can be offered for this documentary. B-

You May Like