Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series


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In 1941, Jacob Lawrence, then just twenty-three years old, made a series of sixty small tempera paintings on the Great Migration, the decades-long mass movement of Black Americans from the rural South to the urban North that began in 1915-16. The child of migrant parents, Lawrence worked partly from his own experience and partly from long research in his neighborhood library. The result was an epic narrative of the collective history of his people. Within months of its completion, the series entered the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Phillips Memorial Gallery (today The Phillips Collection), Washington, D.C., each institution acquiring thirty panels. The Migration Series is now a landmark in the history of modern art.