artist / participant
Jacob Lawrence (1917—2000) occupies a significant, if solitary, place in the history of 20th-century art. For more than 60 years, he responded to the dynamic ruptures and shifts that occurred in American society.
Throughout his venerable career, Lawrence boldly confronted indisputable facts and the hard truths of life. He created dramatic, stylistically powerful works that present a vision of a universal struggle toward equality and unity.
When Lawrence and his family moved to Harlem in 1930, he was part of the Great Migration of African Americans who relocated from the South. Lawrence attended classes at the Harlem Community Art Center and the American Artists School. He was reared among the emerging group of African-American writers, artists, and poets who were a manifestation of the Harlem Renaissance.
For his work as an artist, Lawrence drew on the lessons of history and on his own experience. His prolific body of work covers subjects from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement to daily life. Lawrence first gained prominence in 1942, when at age 23 his Migration series was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and The Phillips Memorial Gallery in Washington. At that time, he was among the first black artists to be accepted in the art world; as such, his message became the voice of the African-American community on the eve of World War II.
Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence
Ort: Caroline Wiess Law Building