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Jacob Lawrence

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Jacob Lawrence
American contemporary painting
American, (1917–2000)
Gaining national recognition at the age of 23, Jacob Lawrence depicted the complexities of Black culture and life through his paintings. One of the most heralded Black artists of the 20th Century, Lawrence is best known for his 60-panel “Migration Series,” depicting the Great Migration of the early 1900s, where Black Americans moved to urban cities looking for career opportunities, facing housing inequality and discrimination.
Although Lawrence dropped out of high school at age 16, he later attended the American Artists School and Harlem Art Workshop in New York. Inspired by the Harlem Renaissance, Lawrence took his personal ties to the Great Migration and connected them in a collection of paintings on cardboard. After this “Migration Series” was displayed at the Museum of Modern Art, Lawrence became one of the most acclaimed Black artists of the century, later teaching at Black Mountain College, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the University of Washington.
Until his passing in 2000, Lawrence portrayed Black life through his paintings that are now exhibited across the country, expressing themes of war, culture, religion, and civil rights.
-Amelie Lee SC ’23, Wilson Arts Administration Intern 2020

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