Jacob Lawrence’s 1941 Paintings Spark Talk About Racial Injustice Today

It’s begging for a comparison to Ferguson. But you’ll have to provide that yourself.

Art museums may seem like the guardians of the past, but they are also the provocateurs of the present, harnessing cultural artifacts to challenge — even incite — today’s visitors. Great exhibitions are organized not merely to rehash relics, but to reevaluate the artworks in new contexts. And, with those artworks’ aid, to reevaluate ourselves.

We have a tendency to forget that dynamic relationship between old art and new life until, by chance, a high-profile exhibit resonates with an even higher profile national conversation. Such is the case with the Museum of Modern Art’s current show “One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North” in New York.

Its centerpiece is New Jersey-born Lawrence’s iconic series: 60 paintings depicting the northward migration of African Americans from 1910-1930. During that period, black populations increased by almost forty percent in Northern states, gathering around urban centers like Chicago and New York. The so-called “Great Migration” radically shifted the social and political landscape of America, setting the stage for everything from the Harlem Renaissance to today’s racially-charged stop-and-frisk debates.

Lawrence’s work, completed in 1941, cycles between different aspects of the journey. Some paintings depict the process of transit, some the social and economic reasons for departure, and others the mixed responses on arrival. His geometric, pared down scenes are done in a striking color palette: bold blue and yellow popping from a background of browns and black. Each image is paired with an extended caption — all of which were pre-written with the assistance of Lawrence’s wife, Gwendolyn Knight, before he ever set brush to paint.

Continue reading

By Colton Valentine | July 28, 2015

Advertisements

5 African American Artists Not Named Jean-Michel Basquiat

jacob-lawrenceVisually, Jacob Lawrence made a point that Cam’ron could be proud of — Harlem is in the building.

Jacob was born in Atlantic City and moved to Harlem when he was 13. His mother quickly enrolled him in an arts and crafts settlement house in Harlem in order to keep him busy.

Mr. Lawrence showed immediate potential and scored a scholarship to the American Artists School as well as a paid gig with the Works Progress Administration.

He deemed his style “dynamic cubism” and credited the shapes and colors of Harlem as being more influential than his French predecessors.

Lawrence was an astute observer who used his art to tell the story of struggling African Americans from the Civil War period up until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Jacob excelled at visually expressing complicated narratives.

His subjects ranged from the historically grandiose, depicting Toussaint L’Ouverture during the Haitian revolution, to simpler portrayals of the struggle, strength, and perseverance of African Americans traveling from the agricultural communities of the South to Northern industrial cities.

While the rest of the country struggled with the Depression, Mr. Lawrence felt lucky to live during a vital period of Harlem’s history.

He claimed the 30’s “was actually a wonderful period in Harlem although we didn’t know this at the time. Of course it wasn’t wonderful for our parents. For them, it was a struggle, but for the younger people coming along like myself, there was a real vitality in the community.”*

In 1970, Jacob settled in Seattle as a professor of art at the University of Washington; he died in 2000.

*Leslie King-Hammond, “Inside-Outside, Uptown-Downtown, Jacob Lawrence and the Aesthetic Ethos of the Harlem Working-class Community,” in Peter T. Nesbett and Michelle Dubois, eds., Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001)

Posted Apr 22nd 2013 3:10PM by Sam Pattillo

Jacob Lawrence: Harlem Icon and National Treasure

Jacob Lawrence The Architect, 1959 Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James Hathinas 82.1

Today, September 7th, marks the birthday of painter Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000), whose vital presence in America’s artistic heritage grew from his roots in the Harlem community. In celebration of his legacy, we’ve reproduced Assistant Curator Lauren Haynes’s essay on The Architect (1959), originally published in Re:Collection: Selected Works from The Studio Museum in Harlem.

—-

One of the most influential African-American painters of the twentieth century, Jacob Lawrence, is well known for his series “The Migration of the Negro” (1940–41), a masterful work of marrative painting that depitcs the migration of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North during the Great Depression. The Architect (1959) is created in Larence’s signature style, which he referred to as “dynamic cubism,” and exemplifies his astute attetion to composition, as well as his use of geometric shapes and bold applications of color. This work captures the role the architect plays in the popular imagination, as a creator of massive and lasting structures.

Although he was born in 1917 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Lawrence’s family moved to Harlem in 1930, where his introduction to art began; he took classes at Harlem artist workshops while he was growuing up and studied with other African-American artists such as Charles Alston and Augusta Savage. Lawrence’s connections and commitment to the Studio Msueum were strong; his first exhibition at the Studio Museum opened in 1969 and featured works from his “Toussaint L’Ouverture” series (1937–38), forty-one paintings that chronicle the life of the Haitain revolutionary leader. After depicting L’Ouverture, he focused in particular on the lives of influential Americans such as John Brown, Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. Lawrence is celebrated for his colorful, narrative illustrations of the harsh struggles and often intolerable conditions black people have faced around the world and throught history. To quote curator and art historian Lowery Stokes Sims, “In his commitmet to modernism and his commitment to the African-American experience, Lawrence has created an oeuvre that bridges the gap between form and content which has been promoted by modernist criticism.”

Jacob Lawrence: Among the Most Impassioned Visual Chroniclers of the African American Experience

Jacob Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence is without a doubt one of the most well-known African American painters of the twentieth century. He said of his work, “I paint the things I know about and the things I have experienced. The things I have experienced extend into my national, racial and class group. So I paint the American scene.” His paintings remain eye catching today because Lawrence was among the first to document the history of African Americans through artworks that were highly influential and widely-viewed. Considering himself both an artist and educator, Lawrence used his narrative style to tell stories about black history.

General Toussaint L’Ouverture” is part of the Toussaint L’Ouverture Series

When Lawrence was seven years old his family moved to Harlem, New York.Arriving in Harlem during its great Renaissance allowed Lawrence to experience the vibrancy of African American intellectual, cultural, and artistic life. Lawrence’s exposure to the Harlem Renaissance is directly reflected in his work through shapes and colors. Lawrence referred to his style as “dynamic cubism”, though the primary influence was not so much French art, but instead the movement and colors of Harlem.

At the age of twenty-one, Lawrence became well known for his “Toussaint L’Ouverture Series” (1937). This was a forty-one painting collection that depicted the successful Haitian slave rebellion. Other influential works were series of paintings about the lives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. Lawrence is also well-known for his sixty painting “Migration Series.” This series traced the mass movement of African Americans from the South to the North after World War I. Lawrence said of this series, “If it was a portrait, it was a portrait of myself, a portrait of my family, a portrait of my peers.”

Number 10 of the Harriet Tubman series

Throughout Lawrence’s career he was honored for his outstanding achievements. In 1970 the NAACP awarded him the Spingarn Medal for his accomplishments as an artist, teacher, and humanitarian. In 1974, a major retrospective of Lawrence’s work was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. He was also awarded the U.S. National Medal of Arts in 1990. Today, Lawrence’s works are part of permanent collections throughout the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, and the White House Historical Association.

Number 21 of the Frederick Douglass series.

Lawrence taught at several schools, and continued to paint until a few weeks before his death in June 2000 at the age of eighty-two. After Lawrence’s death, the New York Times spoke of him as, “among the most impassioned visual chroniclers of the African American experience.” In 2000, the New York Times also called Lawrence, “one of America’s leading modern figurative painters.” Although superb reviews speak volumes of Lawrence’s work, I urge readers to spend time viewing his collection of paintings because they truly do speak for themselves.

Posted on August 2nd, 2011 by Cori Sisler

African-American Art: Why It’s So Unique

African American art is really hot and stuffy. there are many reasons here for hot art which we discuss bellow. If we look deep into the mater than we will know about the intensity and culture these are those factors that make is hot and attractive for all people.

Johnson may be known as a low-budget comedy routines and booty-shaking music videos, who led a successful bet, the cable channel he founded that has transformed the first black American billionaire in 2001. Johnson may be known as a low-budget comedy routines and booty-shaking music videos, who led a successful bet, the cable channel he founded the uterus, it has become the first black American billionaire in 2001.

Suspension Den Robert Johnson is an oil from 1930 by an African-American artist named Palmer Hayden. The painting depicts a black American businessman to shine his shoes. The painting depicts a black American businessman to shine his shoes.

The issue is smartly dressed in suits and disputes, as Johnson himself, a yellow ribbon down sport shirt crisp and bright blue. The issue is smartly dressed in suits and disputes, as Johnson himself is a yellow bow down sport shirt crisp and bright blue.

But in his private moments, he was moved by art that documents the struggles and achievements of black people in America. But in his private moments, he was moved by art that documents the struggles and achievements of black people in America. Since the 1980 Johnson, 62, brought together about 250 works of 19 century and 20, African-American artists. Since the 1980 Johnson, 62, brought together about 250 works of 19 century and 20, African-American artists.

Although the collection of Johnson is probably only worth a couple million dollars, contains some of the biggest names in the genre: Cubist-inspired collage artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988), Modernism in Harlem artist Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000 ) and Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937), who studied with Thomas Eakins in 1880 and was the first black artist to receive international awards. Although the collection of Johnson is probably only worth a couple million dollars, contains some of the biggest names in the genre: Cubist-inspired collage artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988), Harlem modernist painter Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) and Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937), who studied under Thomas Eakins in 1880 and was the first black artist to receive international awards.

contiune reading

http://thenymag.net/african-american-art-why-is-so-unique.html

‘O Write My Name: American Portraits – Harlem Heroes’

Photos of acclaimed African American artists, from Lena Horne and Zora Neale Hurston to Horace Pippin and Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, will be on view at the Morris Museum exhibition, O Write My Name: American Portraits – Harlem Heroes, from Jan. 14 through Feb. 27.

Lena Horne (Photo from Newark Museum Collection)

This exhibition features 50 portrait photos of African-American artists, writers and musicians taken by photographer Carl Van Vechten between the years 1930 and 1960. ‘O Write My Name’ was organized by the Newark Museum in Newark.

The collection consists of photogravures made by Richard M.A. Benson and Thomas Palmer for the Eakins Press Foundation from Van Vechten’s original 35mm negatives.

In the 1920’s, Carl Van Vechten, drama and music critic, novelist, and photographic chronicler of the Harlem Renaissance, became one of the leading popularizers of the African-American culture to white America. His attraction to African-American culture brought him into contact with many of the black writers, musicians, and artists who were the foundation of the Harlem Renaissance, like James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston and Claude McKay among others. Van Vechten not only provided a visual biography of Harlem from the 1920s through the 1960s, he was involved in the dynamics of the Harlem Renaissance itself, having developed friendships with many Harlem writers, musicians and artists who he introduced to white artists, patrons and publishers.

O Write My Name includes portraits of Lottie Allen, Marian Anderson, James Baldwin, Romare Bearden, Mary McLeod Bethune, Arna Bontemps, John W. Bubbles, Ralph Bunche, Countee Cullen, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, W.E.B. DuBois, Katherine Dunham, Ruby Elzy, Ella Fitzgerald, Althea Gibson, Dizzy Gillespie, W.C. Handy, Roland Hayes, Altonell Hines, Nora Holt, Lena Horne, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Mahalia Jackson, Charles S. Johnson, J. Rosamond Johnson, James Weldon Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Alain Locke, Joe Louis, Rose McClendon, Claude McKay, Mildred Perkins, Vera Peterson, Horace Pippin, Dorothy Porter, Leontyne Price, Paul Robeson, Bill Robinson, Edith Sampson, Bessie Smith, Maxine Sullivan, Howard Swanson, Sarah Victor, Margaret Walker, Fredi Washington, Ethel Waters, Josh White and Richard Wright.

Senior Friday, Friday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m., will feature an early afternoon of art and conversation with museum staff. The program includes a highlights tour of the O Write My Name exhibition, engaging discussion in the galleries, and light refreshments. Registration is not required. This event is free with museum admission.

The Morris Museum is at 6 Normandy Heights Road in Morristown. It is open Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults and $7 for children, students and senior citizens. Admission is free to the public every Thursday between 5 and 8 p.m. Call 973-971-3700, or visit morrismuseum.org.

http://www.nj.com/independentpress/index.ssf/2011/01/morris_museum_opens_o_write_my.html