Jacob Lawrence, Dreams #1, 1965.

Jacob Lawrence was the first American artist of African descent to receive sustained mainstream recognition in the United States. His success came early at the age of twenty-four but lasted almost uninterrupted until his death in June 2000. His renown is mostly in his Migration series, in which he documents the migration of blacks from Africa to America, focusing mostly on their history in the South (“Eyeconart…,” n.d). Lawrence repeated motifs, shapes, and words throughout his narrative series. In The Migration Series, the repetition of an enlarged single spike or nail, chain links or lattice, hands, and the hammer act as refrains in the lives, experiences, and struggles of African Americans (“Jacob Lawrence…,” 2002).

The title of this painting caught my eye: Dreams #1. This painting was influenced by African Americans. The title, along with the picture, has a lot of significance to it. African Americans had experienced so many struggles and to name a piece of artwork Dreams probably meant a lot to the artist and the people. Also, the detail that first caught my eye was the primary colors used: the red, yellow, white and black colors. The painting displays Lawrence’s superlative knowledge of color, which is striking in its economy and elegant simplicity. The face of the man seems to be as if he is suffering or in agony.  The yellow bars suggest the bars of a jail cell. The nightmare is also embodied in the devilish figures framed in the rectangles formed by the brass bars of the bed, which they cannot escape (“Jacob Lawrence,” n.d.).

Works Cited

 “Eyeconart: The Harlem Renaissance.” Eyeconart: The Harlem Renaissance. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 July 2012. http://robinurton.com/history/Harlem.htm

“Jacob Lawrence.” Jacob Lawrence. New Britain Museum of American Art, n.d. Web. 03 July 2012. http://www.nbmaa.org/timeline_highlights/essays/lawrence.html

“Jacob Lawrence: Exploring Stories.” Jacob Lawrence: Exploring Stories. Whitney Museum of American Art, 2002. Web. 03 July 2012. http://whitney.org/www/jacoblawrence/art/painting_method.html