Saturday, October 10, 2020

Jacob Lawrence’s ‘Struggle’ Series at Metropolitan Museum of Art

By Emily Raboteau
Panel 10 (detail) (1954) from ‘Struggle: From the History of the American People (1954–56), Jacob Lawrence. Metropolitan Museum of Art. © The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
‘The paintings which I propose to do will depict the struggles of a people to create a nation and their attempt to build a democracy,’ Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000) wrote in 1954 in one of many grant applications. His ambition was to make a narrative series of 60 panels, starting with the events leading up to the American Revolutionary War and ending with the sailing of the US fleet around the world in 1908. Against Lawrence’s wishes, and unlike with his other epic narrative series (including visual biographies of Toussaint L’Ouverture, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and John Brown), the Struggle panels weren’t kept together. [More