mona lisa smileLove reading analysis of famous paintings? 

Explore 250 top art paintings with the Famous Paintings ebook - and discover highlights in U.S. and European art museumsWith sortable data and introductory art essays. 

download-250-paintings-ebook

Then try smiling like that. 

 

Famous Paintings Reviewed

Jacob Lawrence Paintings: The Migration Series

Posted by Susan Benford

One of the most famous painters during the first half of the 20th century, Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) had two notable first-time achievements: 

migration-series-panel-1

1. he was the first African-American artist to exhibit in a New York gallery (1941); and

2. he is the sole 20th century artist whose seminal work - a group of 60 paintings known as The Migration Series- is owned by and divided between two museums, the Phillips Collection and the Museum of Modern Art.

Panel 1. During World War I there was a great migration north by southern African Americans.  Casein tempera on gessoed hardboard.

It is no wonder, then, that the MoMA show exhibiting all these Jacob Lawrence paintings is such a magnificent success.

Born in 1917, Lawrence moved to Harlem at age ten and dropped out of high school when he was 16. While working odd jobs, he began studying at the Harlem Art Workshop and subsequently was awarded a

migration-series-panel-10

Panel 10. They were very poor. Casein tempera on gessoed hardboard.

scholarship to New York's American Artists School.  It was there that he honed his distinctive style of flat, overlapping forms he labelled "dynamic Cubism".  

In 1938, Lawrence went to work for the Works Progress Administration as an easel painter.  Deemed too young at 21 to be a WPA muralist, Lawrence chafed at the size limitations of easel paintings; his solution was to paint in narrative series. 

With this format, Jacob Lawrence became a master storyteller of black history.  Like his fellow Harlem Renaissance artists, Lawrence addressed social struggles and injustices head-on and strove to highlight the historic accomplishments of outstanding blacks. 

migration-series-panel-15-1

Panel 15.  There were lynchings. Casein tempera on gessoed hardboard.

His five such groups of paintings are:

  • a series of 31 works about Harriet Tubman, the noted abolitionist, social reformer and conductor of the Underground Railroad (1938-1940);
  • a group of 32 paintings about her fellow abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, that were completed in 1938-1940;
  • a group of 41 works about the Haitian revolution and its leader, Toussaint L'Ouverture;
  • the John Brown works depicting the life of the controversial abolitionist; and
  • the Migration of the Negro - renamed in 1993 to The Migration Series- a group of 60 paintings depicting the massive exodus of African Americans from the rural South to the industrialized North and Midwest between World War I and World War II.

None is more powerful than The Migration Series.

migration-series-panel-52-1

Panel 52. One of the most violent race riots occurred in east St. Louis.. Casein tempera on gessoed hardboard.

Arguably, it depicts the most massive demographic upheaval in U. S. history as African-Americans exited the Jim Crow South: in 1910, for example, New York City and Chicago had 92,000 and 42,000 blacks, respectively.  By 1940, these populations had quintupled in each city, while in Detroit, the population increased 24-fold in three decades.  As noted by Isabel Wilkerson in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, migrants settled in those cities that were the terminus of a railroad line.

Both the North and South roiled from this shift and during this era.  Northern labor agents, or recruiters, were arrested, as were migrants waiting for their trains out of the South.  Tensions erupted in the so-called Red Summer of 1919, a series of nation-wide riots and massacres of African-Americans by whites in northern and southern towns. 

imigration-series-panel-58

Panel 58.  In the North the African American had more educational opportunities. Casein tempera on gessoed hardboard.

Discrimination and mistreatment were not solely a Southern affair.  

Some established African-Americans, for instance, shunned and disdained their lesser educated, impoverished brethren.  Veterans returning from the war found their jobs taken and their neighborhoods integrated.  Migrants were often hired as strike breakers, a set-up for guaranteed hostility.

The Migration Series captures this all.

Lawrence devoted months to researching the history of the Great Migration at the Schomberg Collection of the Public Library of New York. His fellow artist and future wife, Gwendolyn Knight, helped select key events, write their captions, and gesso the 60 panels.  Lawrence then lined all up, and painted one color at a time across the series to ensure color continuity.  

These Jacob Lawrence paintings were made together -- and belong together.  May the critical acclaim earned by this show spur MoMA and the Phillips Collection to devise a means to exhibit them as this great artist intended.

One Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series will be at the Museum of Modern Art until September 7. 

 

 

 

 

 

Join this Blog - (and add your thoughts!)

Feeling Lucky?

famous paintings cards

Good - because we're feeling generous!

Join this blog and earn a chance to win a FREE set of Masterpiece Cards (a $60 value). 

Enter Me to Win!

Famous Paintings ebook

This free ebook has a wealth of facts and articles about the 250 influential paintings in Masterpiece Cards.

Did we mention it's free? d0e42560-d745-43b3-8b2d-9ee2d3273b82

Famous Painters Blogroll

Anguissola, Three Sisters Playing Chess and Phillip II of Spain

Beckmann, Blind Man's Buff

Beckmann, Departure; Self-Portrait in Tuxedo; Sinking of Titanic

Bingham, Fur Traders Descending the Missouri

BonheurPlowing in the Nivernais

Bonheur, The Horse Fair

Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights

Botticelli, Primavera

Caravaggio, Fashion and Art History

CaravaggioConversion of St. Paul

Caravaggio, Young, Sick Bacchus and Basket of Fruit

Caravaggio, Cardsharps and Fortune Teller

Caravaggio, St. Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy

Caravaggio, Taking of Christ (Kiss of Judas)

Caravaggio Paintings at the Villa Borghese

Cave Paintings

Cezanne, Bathers 

Cezanne, Card Players

Cezanne, Madame Cezanne Paintings

Cezanne, Most Famous Paintings

Cezanne, Red Dress series

Copley, Paul Revere

David, Death of Marat 

David, Death of Socrates

David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps

de Kooning, Retrospective at MoMA (Part I)

de Kooning,Excavation and Painting, 1948 

de KooningWoman I

Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People  

Diebenkorn, The Ocean Park Series

Duncanson, Robert Seldon.  Art History Welcomes Duncanson 

Durer, The Four Apostles

El Greco, Burial of Count Orgaz

El Greco, View of Toledo

FontanaPortrait of a Noblewoman

Frankenthaler, Color Field Painting and Mountains and Sea

Gainsborough, The Blue Boy

Gentileschi, Artemisia.  Judith Beheading Holofernes

Gentileschi, Artemisia.  Self-Portrait as an Allegory of Painting 

Ghent Altarpiece.  GiorgioneThree Philosophers 

Goya, Duchess of Alba

Goya, Family of Charles IV

Goya, Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta

Goya, The Third of May 1808 

Goya, Duchess of Alba; Saturn Devouring his Son; Two Old Men; Half-Submerged Dog; Black Paintings

Grunewald, Isenheim Altarpiece

Hals, Banquet of the Officers of the St. George Civic Guard

Hals, The Laughing Cavalier

Hals, Regents of St. Elizabeth's Hospital

Hopper, Nighthawks

Ingres, Grande Odalisque and Portrait of Madame Moissetier

Isenheim Altarpiece

Kahlo, Renowned Frida Kahlo Paintings.  

Angelica Kauffmann.  Self-Portrait Torn Between Music and Painting and David Garrick.  

Klimt, The Kiss and Adele Bloch-Bauer

Lawrence, Jacob.  Great Migration Series

Leonardo, Painter at the Court of Milan, National Gallery, London 

Leonardo, La Bella Principessa 

Leonardo, New Mona Lisa

Leonardo, Benois Madonna and Madonna Litta 

Leonardo, Savior of the World(Salvator Mundi) 

Leonardo, The Virgin and Child with St. Anne

Leyster, Famous Female Painters

20 Louvre Paintings not to Miss 

ManetA Bar at the Folies-Bergere

Manet, Luncheon in the Studio

Manet, The Old Musician

Manet, Street Singer

MantegnaDead Christ

Matisse Paintings, In Search of True Painting

Matisse, The DanceThe Music

Matisse, The Cone Collection

Matisse, The Red Studio

Matisse, The Yellow Dress

Michelangelo, Crucifixion with the Madonna

Michelangelo, Famous Paintings

Michelangelo, La Pieta with Two Angels (latest attribution?)

Michelangelo, St. John the Baptist Bearing Witness

Modersohn-Becker, Famous Female Painters

Monet, Waterlilies

Morisot, Famous Paintings

MorisotMore Famous Paintings

Munch, The Scream

O'Keeffe, Jack in the Pulpit

Picasso, Girl Before a Mirror

Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust

Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein

Picasso, Las Meninas

Piero della Francesca, The Baptism of Christ

Poussin, Assumption of the Virgin

Raphael, Sistine Madonna

Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer 

Rembrandt, Night Watch

Rembrandt paintings at Frick Show

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait at an Early AgeJeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, The Jewish Bride

Rembrandt, The Syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers' Guild

Rubens, Venus and Adonis

Sanchez Cotan, Spanish Still-life

Sargent, El Jaleo

Sargent, Madame X

Sargent, Smoke of Ambergris

Steen, The Christening Feast 

Steen paintings at Frick Show

Tanner, The Banjo Lesson and The Thankful Poor

Titian, Assumption of the Virgin

Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne

Titian, Man with a Glove

Titian, Nymph and Shepherd, Allegory of Prudence, Jacopa Strada, St. Jerome, Slaying of Marysas

Titian, Rape of Europa

Turner, J. M. W, The Fighting Temeraire

Uccello, Battle of San Romano

van der Weyden, St. Luke Drawing the Virgin

van Eyck, Arnolfini Portrait

van Eyck, Adoration of the Lamb

van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece

van Gogh, The Potato Eaters

van GoghMemory of Garden at Etten; Tatched Cottages; White House

van Gogh,  Portrait of Madam Trabuc; Morning: Going Out

van Gogh, Starry Night

Vincent van Gogh paintings up to 1889

Vincent van Gogh paintings, 1888-1890

Velazquez, Juan de Pareja

Velazquez, Pope Innocent X

Velazquez, Overview of Famous Paintings

Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring

Vermeer, Saint Praxedis

Vermeer, The Kitchen Maid

Vermeer, The Allegory of Painting

VermeerGirl with the Red Hat

Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans

Warhol, Marilyn Diptych and Gold Marilyn 

Warhol, Mao 

Anders Zorn

Famous Paintings by Art Museums - ebooks

Learn about famous paintings to see in these art museums:

Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY). One of those intimate, small art museums with a stellar collectionFamous Paintings at Albright-Knox. 

Art Institute of Chicago: Plan to see these famous paintings at the Art Institute -- and download an ebook about them.

Louvre Museum, (Paris): one of the largest art museums in the world! Know which Louvre paintings not to miss in this sortable ebook. 

Mauritshuis Museum: explore works by renowned Dutch painters

Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City): download the ebook, Famous-Paintings-Metropolitan-Museum, to learn its must-see masterpieces. Or read the blog post, "Famous Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum". 

National Gallery (London): with 2300 famous paintings alone in its European painting section, discover highlights to see!  Art Paintings to See at the National Gallery.

Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam): 10 famous paintings not to miss

Washington, D.C. Art Museums: Explore forty famous paintings in Washington, DC in this article.

Most Popular Posts

Michelangelo PaintingsThe Torment of Saint Anthony; The Manchester Madonna;Holy Family (Doni Tondo); and Entombment

Cave Paintings: explore this prehistoric art in Spain and France.

Picasso's Las Meninas: 58 Picasso paintings inspired by Velazquez's Las Meninas

Ghent Altarpiece: the van Eyck masterpiece, one of the most famous artworks ever made. 

Survey of Renaissance Paintings: want to know what Renaissance paintings were all about? Start with 20 of its most famous painters in this sweeping survey! 

Discover more of readers' favorite art history blog posts. 

Female Artists

While we long for the time when artists are artists and genderless, that time isn't yet here.

These are a few of the female artists who've left lasting legacies in the history of painting:

Sofonisba AnguissolaThree Sisters Playing ChessPhillip II of Spain

Rosa Bonheur.  Plowing in the Nivernais.  Horse Fair.

Lavinia Fontana. Portrait of a Noblewoman.

Helen Frankenthaler. Color Field Painting and Mountains and Sea. 

Artemisia Gentileschi.  Judith Beheading Holofernes.  Self-Portrait as an Allegory of Painting.

Frida Kahlo.  Frida and Diego Rivera.  The Two Fridas.  The Love Embrace of the Universe. 

Angelica Kauffmann.  Self-Portrait Torn Between Music and Painting.  David Garrick.

Judith Leyster.  Self-Portrait.  The Proposition. 

Paula Modersohn-Becker. Self-Portrait with an Amber Necklace. Still Life with Goldfish. 

Berthe Morisot.  Refuge in Normandy.  The Cradle. 

Georgia O'Keeffe. Jack in the Pulpit Series. 

Survey of Female Artists

Art History Other

Art History Reading List: 50+ great reads in fiction and non-fiction

Art History Videos on YouTube

Cave Paintings

Most Controversial Paintings

Google Art ProjectArt Museums Up Close

Survey of Female Artists

Survey of Renaissance Paintings.

Art History Beyond Europe

A few forays into art outside Europe:

African Art and Bocio

African Mask of Idia

Coatlique 

Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Great Wave

The Terracotta Warriors