American realist painter Jacob Lawrence (born September 7, 1917 in Atlantic City, New Jersey; died June 9, 2000 in Seattle, Washington) was a prominent figure in the 20th century. depictions of Black life and history in series painted in tempera or gouache on paper or cardboard.
Lawrence Was Te Offspring Of Emigrants from The South.
He and his brothers were placed in foster care after their parents divorced, and after three years they reunited with their mother in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood.
Lawrence took advantage of the free art workshops offered by Utopia Children’s House, where he first began to demonstrate an aptitude for designing the vivacious decorative masks that would come to play such a significant role in his later narrative painting.
In 1932, he enrolled in Charles H. Alston’s class at the Harlem Art Workshop (funded by the WPA). Augusta Savage, Aaron Douglas, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, and Richard Wright were just some of the Harlem Renaissance luminaries he encountered through Alston.
Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” an oil on canvas from 1889. In New York’s Museum of Modern Art. 73.7 x 92.1 cm.
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Famous Artwork Test
Lawrence’s early pieces, which depict life in Harlem, already feature the abstract forms and flat primary colors that would become his trademarks.
He began a number of series of miniature tempera paintings on African history in the late 1930s, including 41 depictions of Toussaint L’Ouverture (1938), the leader of the Haitian freedom movement, 32 depictions of Frederick Douglass (1939), and 31 depictions of Harriet Tubman (1940). (1940).
After receiving funding from the Julius Rosenwald Fund, Lawrence began The Migration of the American Black, a collection of sixty paintings and captions that tell the tale of the Great Migration.
Lawrence, At 24 Years Old,
Gained Fame With The Exhibition Of This Work At New York City’s Downtown Gallery In 1941.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City and the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC both wanted to buy the series and ended up buying it together and dividing the works between themselves.
By being included, Lawrence made history as the Museum of Modern Art’s first African American artist to be featured. In the same year, Lawrence tied the knot with fellow artist and WPA coworker Gwendolyn Knight.
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After Serving The United States In WWII, He Returned Home.
Lawrence served in the U.S. Coast Guard and then accepted an offer to teach at Black Mountain College in North Carolina from Josef Albers.
After receiving a request from Hughes to illustrate his new poetry anthology One-Way Ticket, Lawrence revisited his Migration series in a series of brush and ink pieces completed in 1948.
Lawrence went to Hillside Hospital in Queens, New York City, for treatment the following year until he finally collapsed from weariness and depression. He stayed for over a year and read all three books in the Hospital series (1950).
Community, For Jacob Lawrence; Family, For Romare Bearden.
Lawrence painted pictures of daily life in Nigeria (1962, 1964), and he also created works about the civil rights movement during this time.
He remained on the faculty of other institutions, including as the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York (1956–1970) and the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Maine (1968).
He started teaching painting at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1971 and stayed there until he retired in 1986.
Among Lawrence’s many commissioned works is a stunning sequence about the fight for desegregation. Even up until he passed away in 2000 from cancer, he kept painting.
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The United States Department of the Arts honored Lawrence with the National Medal of Arts. Pres. Bush Senior in 1990.
His art was featured in numerous exhibitions and significant retrospectives throughout his lifetime.
His works can be found in the permanent collections of numerous prestigious American institutions, including MoMA, the Phillips Collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Seattle Art Museum.
Lawrence’s unflinching depictions of the triumphs and tragedies of black life have not lost their power in the twenty-first century.