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Jacob Lawrence Library

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For Jacob Lawrence's education, he took Works Progress Administration art classes in New York (1934-1937) and he also studied at Harlem Art Workshop in New York in 1937. Harlem provided crucial training for the majority of black artists in the United States. Lawrence was one of the first artists trained in and by the African-American community in Harlem. Throughout his lengthy artistic career, Lawrence concentrated on exploring the history and struggles of African Americans. He often portrayed important periods in African-American history. The artist was 21 years old when his series of paintings of the Haitian general Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the revolution of the slaves that eventually gained independence, was shown in an exhibit of African-American artists at the Baltimore Museum of Art. This impressive work was followed by a series of paintings of the lives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, as well as a series of pieces about the abolitionist John Brown. Harlem artist Charles Allston instantly recognized Lawrence’s talent. ‘’The place of Jacob Lawrence among younger painters is unique,’’ Allston said. ‘’Having thus far miraculously escaped the imprint of academic ideas and current vogues in art, to which young artists are most susceptible, he has followed a course of development dictated entirely by his own inner motivations. ’’

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