Oxford AASC: Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY

African American Artists during the Twentieth Century

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Jacob Lawrence, "The railroad stations were at times so crowded with people leaving that special guards had to be called in to keep order": Panel 12 from The Migration Series (1940–1941; text and title revised by the artist, 1993). Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

One of the lasting impacts of the Harlem Renaissance was a marked increase in the opportunities for arts education and training that became available to African Americans in the 1930s. Using government funds made available through the Works Progress Administration, art centers began to support and teach young artists to be professional painters and sculptors. Jacob Lawrence studied art at the Harlem Art Workshop with Charles Alston and Augusta Savage. His Migration Series, a set of sixty panel paintings, was completed when Lawrence was only 23 years old. Today it remains one of the most important interpretive visual documents of the greatest mass relocation of African Americans since the end of the slave trade between the United States and Africa in the middle of the nineteenth century.

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