Jacob Lawrence

  • Born 1917 in Atlantic City, NJ, USA
  • Died 2000 in Seattle, WA, USA

Jacob Lawrence is known for his vivid scenes of everyday life among blacks. When he was thirteen his family moved to Harlem, where he attended an after-school art program. He quit school at age sixteen, but continued his interest in art. He frequently visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, took classes at the Harlem Art Workshop and the Harlem Community Art Center, and later studied at the American Artists School. Lawrence was inspired by the Harlem community and made its people and life his subject matter. He composed his pictures of plain, often monochrome shapes painted in bold colors. He first received recognition for his paintings with a solo exhibition in 1938 at the Harlem YMCA. Early in the 1940s he created his famous sixty-panel series, “The Migration of the Negro” (now the “Migration” series). In 1946 he received a Guggenheim fellowship, enabling him to accomplish his “War” series, based on the experiences of his tour of duty during World War II, and took a teaching position at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Lawrence received numerous awards, including the National Medal of Arts, held more than two dozen honorary degrees, and his work is included in collections all over the world.

Artworks by Jacob Lawrence in the exhibition