Wadsworth Atheneum


In 1941, Jacob Lawrence, then just twenty-three years old, made a series of sixty small tempera paintings on the Great Migration, the decades-long mass movement of black Americans from the rural South to the urban North that began in 1915-16. The child of migrant parents, Lawrence worked partly from his own experience and partly from long research in his neighborhood library. The result was an epic narrative of the collective history of his people. 

Moving from scenes of terror and violence to images of great intimacy, and drawing on film, photography, political cartoons, and other sources in popular culture, Lawrence created an innovative format of sequential panels, each image accompanied by a descriptive caption. The Migration Series is now a landmark in the history of modern art.

This book grounds Lawrence's work in the cultural and political debates that shaped his art and demonstrates its relevance for artists and writers today. The series is reproduced in full: short texts accompanying each panel relate them to the history of the Migration and explore Lawrence's technique and approach.

Details: By Elizabeth Alexander
published 2015, 192 pages, hardcover



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