Throughout a career spanning six decades, the artist Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000) maintained an unwavering focus on the human condition and created work that gave pointed and consistent expression to the black experience in America. Lawrence first came to prominence in the Harlem workshops of the 1930s and was among the first African Americans to break the color line in the highly segregated world of modern art. Celebrated for his highly original use of flat tempera color patterns in a style termed "dynamic cubism," and for his vivid storytelling, Lawrence's paintings made visible the struggles for economic, political, and racial equality.
Largely due to its dispersal among various collectors and institutions, the Struggle series has remained an understudied aspect of Lawrence's achievement as a narrative artist. To date, very little has been published concerning how and why in 1954, at the height of the McCarthy Era and just as the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education launched a new era in the civil rights movement, Lawrence would begin to paint a cycle of paintings depicting the Revolutionary War and pre-Jacksonian America 1740–1814.
Throughout the entire academic year, panels of Lawrence's last epic series will be on display at The Fralin Museum. It has been twenty years since they were last seen together.
The Fralin Museum of Art's programming is made possible by the generous support of The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of The McIntire Department of Art, Mr. Harvey Ross, The Jacob Lawrence Foundation, the Page-Barbour Fund, the Arts Council, WTJU 91.1 FM, albemarle Magazine, and Ivy Publications LLC's Charlottesville Welcome Book.