Lawrence, Jacob, 1917-2000

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1917-09-17
Death 2000-06-09
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Painter; New York, N.Y.; b. 1917; d. 2000.

From the description of Oral history interviews with Jacob Lawrence, 1982 July 20-Aug. 4. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 84455118

Jacob Lawrence was an African-American painter and illustrator. He received the Spingarm Medal in 1975 and taught at the New School and Pratt Institute. He died in 2000.

From the description of Jacob Lawrence exhibition card and autobiographical notes, 1947-1948. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 49571723

Considered a leading black artist, Jacob Lawrence worked in gouache, an opaque water colour, and tempera, a mixture of pigment and a binder. He is famous for the distinctive flat surfaces of his narrative paintings depicting social problems, as in The Migration of the Negro (1940-41) and Struggle: From the History of the American People (1955). Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He studied under Charles Alston at the Art Workshop in Harlem, New York (1932-39), and at the Harlem Art Center and the American Artists School in New York City (1937-39). He was a professor of art emeritus at the University of Washington, Seattle. [From Hutchinson Encyclopedia of Biography (2000)]

From the guide to the Jacob Lawrence Papers, 1937-1971, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

b. September 17, 1917; d. June 9, 2000.

From the description of Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. (Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)). WorldCat record id: 83236478

Lawrence is among the best-known twentieth century African American painters, a distinction shared with Romare Bearden. Born in 1917 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Lawrence was thirteen when he moved with his mother, sister and brother to New York City. His mother enrolled him in classes at an arts and crafts settlement house in Harlem, in an effort to keep him busy. The young Lawrence often drew patterns with crayons. Although much of his work copied his mother's carpets, an art teacher there noted great potential in Lawrence. In 1970 Lawrence settled in Seattle, Washington and became an art professor at the University of Washington. Some of his works are now displayed there in the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering and in Meany Hall for the Performing Arts. The piece in the main lobby of Meany Hall, entitled "Theatre", was commissioned by the University for the hall in 1985. Lawrence was honored as an artist, teacher, and humanitarian when the NAACP awarded him the Spingarn Medal in 1970 for his outstanding achievements. In 1974 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York held a major retrospective of his work, and in 1983 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1998 he received Washington State's highest honor, The Washington Medal of Merit. He was awarded the US National Medal of the Arts in 1990. He died on June 9, 2000.Biographical Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Lawrence , 2008.

From the description of Jacob Lawrence Papers 1971-1976. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 430839403

Epithet: Lieutenant; RN

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000133.0x0001b9

Painter, educator; Seattle, Wash.; b. 1917; d. 2000.

From the description of Oral history interview with Jacob Lawrence, 1968 Oct. 26. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79296689

Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000), African American painter, was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

From the description of Lawrence, Jacob, 1917-2000 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10568102

Interviewee Jacob Lawrence: African-American painter and educator; New York, N.Y. and Seattle, Wash.; b. 1917; d. 2000. Interviewee Gwendolyn Knight: Wife of Lawrence, artist; New York, N.Y. and Seattle Wash.

From the description of Oral history interview with Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight, 1998 Nov. 18 [sound recording]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 84547920

African-American painter and educator; New York, N.Y. and Seattle, Wash.; b. 1917; d. 2000

Born Jacob Armstead Lawrence, September 17, 1917, Atlantic City, N.J. He died June 9, 2000, in Seattle. Worked for the WPA's Federal Art Project and taught at Black Mountain College, in North Carolina, Pratt Institute (1956-1971), Brandeis University (1965), The New School (1966), the Art Students League (1967), the University of Washinginton, and others.

From the description of Jacob Lawrence papers [microform], 1937-1992. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 84547913

Modernist painter and educator Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) was born in 1917 as Jacob Armstead Lawrence in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He began his art studies at the Utopia Children’s Center in New York City’s Harlem district where he studied under the painter Charles Alston. Lawrence dropped out of high school at the age of sixteen to continue his art instruction with Alston but this time at the Harlem Art Workshop where he met several artists associated with the Harlem Renaissance including the sculptor Augusta Savage.

Gwendolyn Knight (b.1913) was born in Barbados and moved to New York City with her adoptive parents when she was seven. She attended New York’s Wadleigh High School and later Howard University in Washington, D. C. where she studied fine arts with Lois Mailou Jones and James Porter. Forced to leave her studies at Howard because of the Depression, Knight returned to Harlem and continued her artistic pursuits in Augusta Savage’s workshop. In1935, Knight joined the Harlem Mural Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) working under Selma Day and Charles Alston. Lawrence and Knight met in Savage’s workshop and married in the summer of 1941.

During the Depression, Lawrence also joined the WPA Federal Arts Project in Harlem. Finding WPA murals overwhelming, Lawrence concentrated on traditional painting instead. He produced his first major works in the late 1930s, most notably the Toussaint L’Ouverture series, images that document the life of the revolutionary hero and Haiti’s struggle for independence. Other significant works include visual narratives of the lives of abolitionists Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. In 1940, Lawrence received the prestigious Julius Rosenwald Fellowship making it possible to purchase his first art studio on 125th Street in the heart of Harlem. He soon portrayed Harlem street life in paintings that became commentaries on the role of African Americans in United States society with highly developed themes of resistance and social opposition. That same year, Lawrence began his most celebrated series, “The Migration of the American Negro,” multiple tempera panels depicting the exodus of African American sharecroppers in the south to northern industrial cities in search of better employment and social opportunities. Edith Halpert exhibited the works in their entirety at her Downtown Gallery in 1941 establishing Lawrence as the first African American artist to exhibit in a top New York gallery. The following year, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC each bought half of the sixty panels in the series, helping to further Lawrence’s career within the larger world of American art.

In the summer of 1946, the artist Joseph Albers invited Lawrence to teach at North Carolina’s Black Mountain College. It was the first in a series of teaching positions in prestigious art schools including Pratt Institute (1956-1971), Brandeis University (1965), The New School (1966), the Art Students League (1967), and others. During the 1950s and 1960s, Lawrence’s work continued to focus on racism and political activism but in the late 1960s shifted to themes of racial harmony.

Both Lawrence and Knight continued independent careers in art. Knight pursued her art studies at the New School in New York and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. In the mid-1960s, she collaborated with other female artists to form the Studio Gallery in New York City. Knight's main body of work consists of portraits and still-lifes that incorporate expressions of African sculpture, Impressionism, dance and theater. Focusing on gesture, her art is described as light and airy with a minimum of lines allowing empty space to define the work.

In 1970, Lawrence traveled to Seattle to teach as a visiting artist at the University of Washington. He was hired on a permanent basis the following year and remained on staff until his retirement in 1986. Jacob Lawrence died June 9, 2000, in Seattle, Washington at the age of 83. Gwendolyn Knight continues to live and paint in Seattle and actively exhibits her work around the country.

From the guide to the Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight papers, 1945-1995 (bulk 1973-1994), (Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)

Lawrence is among the best-known twentieth century African American painters, a distinction shared with Romare Bearden. Born in 1917 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Lawrence was thirteen when he moved with his mother, sister and brother to New York City. His mother enrolled him in classes at an arts and crafts settlement house in Harlem, in an effort to keep him busy. The young Lawrence often drew patterns with crayons. Although much of his work copied his mother's carpets, an art teacher there noted great potential in Lawrence. In 1970 Lawrence settled in Seattle, Washington and became an art professor at the University of Washington. Some of his works are now displayed there in the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering and in Meany Hall for the Performing Arts. The piece in the main lobby of Meany Hall, entitled "Theatre", was commissioned by the University for the hall in 1985. Lawrence was honored as an artist, teacher, and humanitarian when the NAACP awarded him the Spingarn Medal in 1970 for his outstanding achievements. In 1974 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York held a major retrospective of his work, and in 1983 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1998 he received Washington State's highest honor, The Washington Medal of Merit. He was awarded the US National Medal of the Arts in 1990. He died on June 9, 2000.

Biographical Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Lawrence, 2008

From the guide to the Jacob Lawrence Papers, 1971-1976, (University of Minnesota Libraries Children's Literature Research Collections [clrc])

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Subjects:

  • Printmakers--United States
  • Art, American--20th century
  • African Americans--Biography
  • Art--Painters
  • African American arts
  • Painters--Interviews
  • African Americans and art
  • Painters--Washington (State)
  • African Americans
  • African American artists--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • African American artists--New York (State)--New York
  • Painting--Study and teaching
  • Art--American (?)--Reproductions
  • Painting, Modern--20th century
  • Painters--United States--20th century
  • Art, American--Exhibitions
  • African American painting
  • Painters
  • African American artists--Interviews
  • Literature--Children's
  • Painters--New York (State)
  • Painting, American--Afro--American painting
  • African American printmakers
  • Painting, American--20th century
  • Art, American
  • African American painters--Interviews
  • African American artists
  • Art and race
  • Painting, Modern--20th century--United States

Occupations:

  • Painter
  • Artists
  • Printmaker

Places:

  • Glasgow, Scotland (as recorded)
  • Washington (State)--Seattle (as recorded)
  • London, England (as recorded)
  • Washington (State) (as recorded)
  • Great Yarmouth, Norfolk (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • Walmer, Kent (as recorded)
  • Dover, Kent (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • Cork, Ireland (as recorded)
  • Washington (State)--Seattle (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--N.Y (as recorded)
  • West Indies, America (as recorded)
  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)