Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Jacob Lawrence: The Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman Series of 1938-40 Hardcover – June 1, 1991
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Published in 1991 by the Hampton University Museum in Virginia, this book contains four essays and reproductions of two Lawrence series, all 32 Frederick Douglass paintings made in 1938 and 1939 and all 31 Harriet Tubman paintings made in 1939 and 1940. Lawrence painted both series and wrote the captions to tell the stories of hope and emancipation of African Americans.
The first three essays, each running 10 to 12 pages, relate how Lawrence developed his series format and, specifically, how he developed the ideas and art in each of these two stories. He was influenced by a belief that African Americans, while not still enslaved, were in 1940 still in "an economic slavery." The stories he featured, while historical, remained relevant to his own period as well. The fourth covers the imagery of struggle.
Bold and unforgiving, Lawrence's vibrant works grew from his own childhood migration--from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Easton, Pennsylvania, to Philadelphia and finally, at 13, to Harlem, from his exposure to African-American culture--and his intensive training in the Utopia Children's House and New Deal-sponsored Harlem Art Workshop of the 1930s. In Harlem, he studied old masters like Giotto and Pieter Breughel the Elder and modern masters like Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne and Henri Matisse.
At that time, the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was still funding public art murals, but Lawrence was too young to gain a commission. Instead, he determined to show the African-American struggle for freedom in real-life stories, tying past to present. From 1938 to 1941, he used the New York public library for research, creating in swift succession five series of paintings telling the stories of Toussaint L'Ouverture, Douglass, Tubman, John Brown, and The Migration of the Negro.
In the middle two series, Lawrence hoped to speak artistically of the legendary escapes from slavery made by two African-American heroes, each of whom led the struggle for ultimate freedom for all. The paintings depicted beatings, coercion, repression and ultimately courageous escapes. The faces and bodies in these works speak of the brutality of slavery and the exhilaration that came from its escape. Lawrence wove bold colors and themes throughout the series, thereby joining each set of paintings into a whole.
He succeeded, too, because these works are as beautiful and wild as anything ever created by van Gogh, and a great deal more hopeful.
Even if you don't want to know all the personal and American history that Lawrence melded in the creation of these works--which I can't imagine--you will relish owning a book containing color plates of two entire series, complete with Lawrence's enthralling captions.
This book is a gem.
--Alyssa A. Lappen