CHICAGO, IL.- The Terra Foundation for American Art
announced today the recent acquisition of Bar-b-que by pioneering African American artist Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000). Created in 1942, the gouache-on-paper painting belongs to Lawrences thematic group of work about life in Harlem, a focal point of African-American culture in the twentieth century.
Through Lawrences unique pictorial inventions, this painting represents a crucial time in the African American urban experience explained Terra Foundation Vice President of Collections and Curatorial Affairs Elizabeth Hutton Turner. The bold colors, stylized figures, and syncopated rhythm of the doorway and windows reference the sights and sounds of this vibrant community, as well as the psychological dimension of a segregated city.
Born in 1917, Lawrence came to Harlem in 1930. In 1935 he began creating images of his community, using commercial poster paints and lightweight brown paper. Many portrayed working class life, including unvarnished observations of poverty and crime.
Lawrence first achieved national prominence when he created a 60-panel series of narrative paintings called The Migration of the Negro (now known simply as The Migration Series), which detailed the movement of African Americans from the rural south to the industrial north. The Phillips Collection and the Museum of Modern Art each purchased half of the series and sent it on an extended national tour for the duration of World War II, making him the most celebrated African American artist in the country at the time.
Bar-b-que is among Lawrences first paintings to combine multiple stories into one composition, added Turner. It complements important works from the Terra Foundations collection by artists associated with Lawrence, such as Stuart Davis, John Marin, and Charles Sheeler, all of whom exhibited alongside Lawrence at New Yorks Downtown Gallery throughout the 1940s.
The Terra Foundation collection comprises 731 paintings, works on paper, and sculptures dating from the late eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century by artists such as John Singleton Copley, James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Marsden Hartley, and Edward Hopper. The Foundation works to ensure its collection is accessible, lending artworks to exhibitions worldwide, creating focused shows of its collection for public exhibition, and maintaining a comprehensive database of the collection on its website. (www.terraamericanart.org). Since 2005 more than 400 Terra Foundation objects have been loaned to 100 projects at 100 venues worldwide. On average, 20% of the foundations collection is on view around the world, compared to the general average of 5% for most museums.
Paintings by Jacob Lawrence are represented in nearly two hundred public collections throughout the country, and have been the subject of a number of major retrospective exhibitions.