Lost, and Now Found, Art From the Civil Rights Era

By Hilarie M. Sheets
Panel 1 of “Struggle: From the History of the American People.” The work, by Jacob Lawrence, was received with some ambivalence by the art world. The collection was eventually purchased by a private collector who later resold each panel separately. The Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, via PEM
During the civil rights movement in the mid-1950s, Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) — one of the leading black artists of his day — painted a series of 30 panels re-examining early American history. The series, “Struggle: From the History of the American People,” presented a radically integrated view of the nation’s founding, including unheralded contributions of African-Americans in the fight to build a new democracy. The majority of these little-seen paintings have been reunited for the first time in roughly 60 years in “Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle,” on view at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., through April 26. [More]
(The show will then travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama, the Seattle Art Museum and the Phillips Collection in Washington.)