Jacob Lawrence and the Urban Experience

PHILADELPHIA - November 1, 2009

"Art and the City" is the yearlong focus of exhibits appearing at the Arthur Ross Art Gallery on the campus of The University of Pennsylvania. Their current exhibition displays works from one of the most renowned African American painters and printmakers of the 20th century.

Jacob Lawrence was well known for depicting the African American urban experience through his art.

"Jacob Lawrence was so tied to the city specifically Harelm," said Dejay Duckett, Associate Director of Arthur Ross Galleries, "During the Harlem Renaissance early in the 1930s and continuing into the 1940s, he came to the city and was just awed by it, and these images stayed with him for 60 years. "

His style is considered cubism, and his impact - bold and colorful - as shown in the 30 prints displayed in the exhibit - created these deconstructed form. Very simple yet very complex compositions that are just absolutely stunning. The patterns, the geometric shapes of the clothes lines and the clothes hanging from them. He saw the fire escapes, the grates, the architecture, the churches the windows. Everything captured his imagination.

Even our city of Philadelphia inspired him!

"As a very young boy Jacob Lawrence lived in Philadelphia and he was quoted saying that it was in Philadelphia that he first discovered color," Duckett said.

You can hear more from this beloved artist in a short video showing in the gallery that features one of his last interviews before he passed in 2000.

Check out this historical showing of Jacob Lawrence up and running through December 24th. Admission is free, so go to http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/article.php?id=1730 for gallery hours.

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