Jacob Lawrence

speaking through a paintbrush.

The Migration of the Negro panel number 1

This image shows African Americans moving as clearly stated in the title, "The Migration of the Negro" It shows how many African Americans were coming into cities. They were coming to escape oppression, get better jobs, and better housing. Many think he was influenced by his parents who moved from South Carolina to Virginia, and then to New York in hopes of these same things. This is one of his most well known pieces.


In the picture below it shows some of the same characteristics of migration. There is a sense of anticipation as they look off into the distance. They are searching for some of the same things as the people in the first image such as freedom, represented by the birds above. The empty space is there to represent the future that lies ahead. Will it be good?

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"When the subject is strong, simplicity is the only way to treat it."

Jacob Lawrence has influenced America greatly. He changed us through his art. He normally portrayed struggles of African Americans during periods in the Harlem Renaissance and the Great Migration. The great Migration was a period of time from 1910-1970 when over 6 million African Americans moved from the urban South to the rural North. He told stories of our past and history. He showed these hard times and helped us remember them today. His work played a big part in decelerating racial oppression. Not only did he affect average people and tell history but he was a role model for other artists to follow. He created his own technique and style. He created a version of painting called dynamic cubism. He put together the tempera technique, which was pigment mixed with binder made of egg yolk thinned with water, and the traditional cubist style. many artists saw him as an inspiration to pursue their own work and maybe make there own technique.

"I hope that when my life ends, I would have added a little beauty, perception, and quality for those who follow."

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Biography

Jacob Lawrence had an interesting childhood. His parents separated at a very young age. Soon after his mom dropped him and his two younger siblings in foster care in New York, The City that Never Sleeps. Of course he learned quickly of art being present there. He dropped out of school at age 16, but was a common visitor of the art museums there. Soon he got a scholarship to the American Artists School. He soon began the work on his 60 panel piece mentioned above called, "The Migration of the Negro" which made him become the first African American to join the Edith Halpert's Downtown Gallery. Also throughout his work he was emotionally, and physically supported, and criticized by his wife Gwendolyn Knight. She herself was an artist and sculptor who migrated from barbados to the United States at a young age.

“I would describe my work as expressionist. The expressionist point of view is stressing your own feelings about something.”

Is that piece by Lawrence?

It is actually not, believe it or not. The man who made this is named Stuart Davis and was born not too many years before Lawrence. Their artwork came out around the same time so it is hard to say if one influenced the other or not. One thing's for sure, their artwork is quite similar. The piece to the right is Davis's.

This one is

The way to tell them apart is in Lawrences art there is a common theme of having an African American in his art (Though later that was not always the case. He did some art of World War II also) , and Davis's work tends to have more vibrant color in it. They are different, but both used a form of cubism throughout their work.


Bibliography is linked below