For the first time since 1994, all sixty panels from Jacob Lawrence’s Migration of the Negro (commonly known as the Migration Series) will be reunited and displayed in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at the Downtown Gallery in New York City. In an exhibition entitled “One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North,” the display will be open to the public from April until September of 2015. In 2016, the panels will go to the Phillips Collection here in Washington, DC to be shown.
These narrative paintings were created during the early 1940s, a time when many African Americans were migrating from the Jim Crow South to the North. Only 23 years old when creating this work of art, Lawrence used resources provided from the Rosenwald Fund and to travel to the South and witness firsthand the segregation and blatant racism in rural communities to serve as his inspiration for the series. Additionally, he addresses the struggles and triumphs of the migration using his personal experiences in the North as a child and young adult.
Although Julius Rosenwald expressed very little interest in art, his wife Adele Rosenwald Levy collected art and was drawn to Lawrence’s work and more than willing to make a contribution. She specifically loved panel 46, the reason why the even-number panels are in MoMA and the odd-number panels are located here in the Phillips Collection. This acquisition by Adele and the Rosenwald fund helped Lawrence to become the major figure in American art that he is still considered to be today.
For more info about the Migration Series, Jacob Lawrence and how to see the panel displays click below to view this article by the New York Times.
Erica Marshall, Winter Intern