Edited by Peter T. Nesbett and Michelle DuBois
Copublished with: Jacob Lawrence Catalogue Raisonne Project
This two-volume set, including Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence and Jacob Lawrence: Paintings, Drawings, and Murals (1935-1999), A Catalogue Raisonne, is the definitive publication on the work of artist Jacob Lawrence. The result of six years of research by the Jacob Lawrence Catalogue Raisonne Project, led by Peter T. Nesbett and Michelle DuBois, the books identify, authenticate, and document over 900 paintings, drawings, and murals created by Jacob Lawrence between 1935 and 1999—over half of them discovered by the project. Over the Line includes essays by eight distinguished art historians considering the ways in which Lawrence’s art speaks so powerfully to different audiences and examining for the first time the breadth and depth of his output.
Intimate in scale and bold in content, Lawrence’s candid portrayals of life in Harlem during the Depression and his epic multi-panel series painted in the late 1930s and early 1940s are the cornerstones of his aesthetic production. His paintings, drawings, and murals depict both critical moments in history and poignant struggles of everyday life. The subject matter ranges from unforgiving portrayals of racial injustice to compassionate scenes of family life, from unnerving images of nuclear annihilation to visual celebrations of such heroic individuals as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. His use of the series format and his attention to pressing social issues accord him a unique position in the history of American modernism.
Born in 1917, Jacob Lawrence spent his childhood in New York City, attending classes at the Harlem Community Art Center and the American Artists School, and later working for the Federal Art Project. While still in his twenties Lawrence exhibited his paintings at major museums across the country, including the Phillips Collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he became the first African American artist to have work represented in the permanent collection. He lived, painted, and taught in New York City until 1971, when he joined the faculty of the University of Washington. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the National Medal of Arts.
The contributors to Over the Line include Lizzetta LaFalle Collins; Patricia Hills, Boston University; Elizabeth Hutton-Turner, the Phillips Collection; Paul Karlstrom, West Coast Archives of American Art; Leslie King-Hammond, Maryland Institute; Richard Powell, Duke University; Lowery Stokes Sims, Studio Museum in Harlem; and Elizabeth Steele, the Phillips Collection.
The publication accompanies the nationally touring exhibition Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle on view at the Peabody Essex Museum from January 18 to April 26, 2020, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from June 2 to September 7, 2020, Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama, from October 17, 2020, to January 10, 2021, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, from February 25 to May 31, 2021, and The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, from June 26 to September 19, 2021.