Early Modern Art

Jacob Lawrence created many pieces of art that were influenced from African American culture and events of that era. Lawrence’s work was influenced by events such as the Civil War, Civil Rights Movement, the Great Migration, and simple daily activities. As such, these were more then influences for Lawrence, most of his artistic style came from his own life and he put his own thoughts and emotions into his work. As someone who lived through a dramatic cultural time period his art evicts a powerful feeling to those who view his work.

The Migration of the Negro (Panel 1)

Jacob Lawrence

1940-1941  New York

The above painting by Lawrence shows a massive crowd of African Americans immigrating to northern cities: Chicago, New York, and St. Louis. One of the elements that I really like is that Lawrence left the faces off of the people in his painting. Lawrence only used six different colors, but he arranges them in a way that makes the painting appealing and bright. He also created a sense of unity in the painting as the whole crowd seems to be going in the same direction and there is no chaos.

The Migration of the Negro (Panel 3)

Jacbob Lawrence

1940-1941 New York

The above painting is also included in Jacob Lawrence’s series The Migration of the Negro. In this painting Lawrence shows a tight nit family meeting- the group of people are all close together and there is no open space. Again, there are no facial expressions shown and Lawrence leaves this aspect for interpretation.

For more information: http://whitney.org/www/jacoblawrence/index.html


About lbullen

I am a student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, studying Business Administration. This semester I am enrolled in Distance classes while I travel. I'm leaving for a month and a half to travel to Australia and Thailand! I'll also spend about a month visiting DC & NY. My philosophy in life at the moment is to make your dreams happen now while you have the chance.
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3 Responses to Early Modern Art

  1. teslynvisscher says:

    Interesting post! The idea behind his panel is one you always hear about, the Northern migration of African Americans, yet to see it in painting makes it more real and really adds something to it, at least for me. I can’t imagine just picking up your life and moving somewhere else to try to start a new beginning, it really is fascinating to me and that’s really what I like about the works, just the theme behind them. I also find it interesting what he did with the colors, only using six, that wouldn’t have been something I would have picked up on had you not mentioned it. He did a great job putting them together they are simple, but meaningful. I also agree, it is interesting he left the faces off, but in a way more symbolic. I feel like he was focusing more on the mass migration and on the group itself rather than on the individual, which adds a new dynamic to the works. Often I feel like the emphasis is opposite in many pieces, with the focus on the individual rather than on the group to try to connect with the audience better but in this case, I think he connects with people in a different way. As far as information, looks like you included everything and great job connecting it to the theme you chose. Nice choice!

  2. I really like the pieces that you chose, you can almost tell without looking at the description of the paintings that it was around the time of the Civil War. I especially enjoyed reading your analysis about “The Immigration of the Negro.” I agree with how you said that they are a close knit family, sort of like they’re stronger together. It also looks as if they’re following the geese going North. As for the criteria, you stated all of the factual information needed such as the title of the artworks, the dates and places they were made. You also explained why you liked the artwork an cited your claims. Great job on your post!

  3. w1nterman says:

    As I have said a few times now I do not really like much art past that is impressionistic or later. However, you did a great job explain the significance of the piece and what you particularly liked about them. Also the explanation of the style of the paintings what what was happening in them really helped me appreciate them more than I normally would have.

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