Jacob Lawrence

Artist and painter

Early Life

He grew up in Pennsylvania and moved to Harlem when he was 13. He was there introduced to art after his mother enrolled him in the Utopia Children's Center. At 16, he started attending classes at the Harlem Art Workshop. He often visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art where some of his artwork is hanging today. In 1937, Jacob Lawrence earned a scholarship to the American Artists School and graduated 2 years later. After he graduated, he started painting moderate paintings. He then completed his series "The Great Migration". His work got accepted in Edith Halpert's Downtown Gallery making him the first African American to have work displayed there. This was the start to his career as a painter.

Examples of Jacob Lawrence's Artwork

Click the link below to look at Lawrence's entire "Great Migration" series

Armin Boehm vs Jacob Lawrence

Armin Boehm is a painter who uses extravagant colors in his artwork and uses distinctive shapes to make people and items just like Jacob Lawrence does. As you can see in the examples to the right and below, Boehm's painting style is very similar to Lawrence's. His more sad and dark paintings use darker and duller colors. Sunflowers on Wood and They were Very Poor are similar and have similar ideas. They are both more dull and use darker colors to express and darker feeling. I also think The Wedding and Les Fins De Soiree Paroxystiques are similar with the bright overload of colors. They both express a happier idea. The way the people are painted are similar. In Lawrence and Boehm painting's, it is always easy to distinguish the mood, where in other paintings sometimes it is hard to figure out what the artist is expressing. They both use more unique materials to paint. Lawrence used a mix of eggs, oil, glue, and paint and Boehm uses oil paint, fabric, metal, sand, and pure pigment. Most of Boehm's paintings use darker colors but some of his paintings use a wide variety of bright colors and are very filled with shapes and colors.

Examples of Armin Boehm's Artwork

Lawrence's Impact on American Culture

Jacob Lawrence was the first African American to have his work accepted into the Edith Halpert's Downtown Gallery. His series of artwork "The Great Migration" portrayed the journey of traveling from the South to Harlem. The series goes in chronological order of what the journey to the North. All his paintings show the struggle of segregation and discrimination. This was very inspirational to African Americans. Lawrence's paintings have a large variety of moods and they go from the excited streets of Harlem in 1930 to the angry and discriminated streets in Harlem in 1960. This really represented the feelings of African Americans during this time, so many African Americans supported his work because they could connect to it personally.
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After "The Great Migration" Series

Jacob Lawrence joined the army during World War 2. He was drafted into the coast guard. As he traveled, he documented his experiences in the war. He painted around 50 paintings while he was in the army, but they were all lost. After he got out of the army, Lawrence produced his second series, "The War Series". Lawrence grew depressed after the war and checked into a hospital where he stayed for almost a year. He continued to paint there and once he checked out of the hospital. Lawrence then turned his attention to painting things he aw in theater performances. Jacob began teaching at the New School for Social Research and the Art Students League.