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date: 17 August 2019

Lawrence, Jacoblocked

(b Atlantic City, NJ, Sept 7, 1917; d Seattle, June 9, 2000).
  • Morgan Falconer

Extract

(b Atlantic City, NJ, Sept 7, 1917; d Seattle, June 9, 2000).

American painter. He took Works Progress Administration art classes in New York (1934–7), and also studied at the Harlem Art Workshop, New York (1935) and the American Artists’ School (1937). Lawrence’s vigorous social realism quickly brought him recognition and by 1941 he was the first African American artist to be represented in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His early work comprised genre depictions of everyday life in Harlem, as well as major series devoted to black history (1940–41; see And the Migrants Kept Coming and In the North the Negro had Better Educational Facilities). The 41 pictures of the Touissant L’Ouverture series (1937–8; see 1986–7 exh. cat., pp. 52–3) are addressed to Haiti’s struggle for independence in the 19th century. Small pictures, executed in tempera on paper, they are characteristic of his use of water-based media throughout his career; the schematic designs, flat space, and vigorous, angular figures are typical of his style both at the beginning and the end of his life. ...

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