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19th Anniversary 122 www.afamag.com | www.incollect.com by Christie Hajela J acob Lawrence (1917–2000), the artist most often recognized for The Migration of the Negro (later renamed The Migration Series ), was just twenty-four years old when his magnum opus series of sixty paintings first garnered national acclaim in 1941. Perhaps less often cited but equally important, however, are the prints he created in the decades that followed. A new exhibition, History, Labor, Life: The Prints of Jacob Lawrence, will open at Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum with more than ninety works from the artist’s printmaking career spanning 1963 to 2000. Lawrence began printmaking following his first retrospective in 1960 at the Brooklyn Museum. Already an established painter, he embraced the opportunit y to reach a wider audience by transitioning to a medium that was more accessible and readily available. Printmaking was particularly well-suited to his bold, graphic aesthetic, and he embraced the medium as an experimental avenue through which he could revisit and remake earlier paintings — a practice that began with his very first print, Two Rebels (1963) (Fig. 1). Originally painted in the vivid, saturated hues typical of his work (Fig. 2), Lawrence created Two Rebels in response to the anti-segregation demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama. Early 1963 marked the launch of Project C (also known as The Birmingham Campaign), organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and led by members like Martin Luther History, Labor, Life THE PRINTS OF JACOB LAWRENCE Fig. 1: Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000), Two Rebels, 1963. Lithograph on Rives paper from a plate hand-drawn by the artist, 30½ x 20⅛ inches. © 2018 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
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