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On View in Texas, Jacob Lawrence's Powerful First Narrative Series Tells of a Revolution

  • EL PASO, Texas
  • /
  • November 05, 2018

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Jacob Lawrence’s “Toussaint L’Ouverture” Series: The Haitian Revolution, on view from October 31, 2018 – February 27, 2019, at El Paso Museum of Art.

The El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA) presents Jacob Lawrence’s “Toussaint L’Ouverture” Series: The Haitian Revolution, on view now through February 27, 2019. The exhibition features signature works of art by renowned African American painter Jacob Lawrence and are on loan from a private collection.

Three years after graduating from the American Artist School in New York, Lawrence commenced his most well-known series that comprised painted panels about the Great Migration. Yet, with his first series following Haiti’s fight for independence from France and the life of Toussaint L’Ouverture, a slave turned revolutionary leader, was when Lawrence developed his signature approach.

The exhibition includes fifteen silkscreen prints that trace revolutionary leader Toussaint L’Ouverture’s journey from birth to commander. The prints were distilled from over forty-one panels that Lawrence used to describe social injustice in narrative sequence.

El Paso Museum of Art Director, Victoria Ramirez, explains the importance of Lawrence’s art and this exhibition saying, “The print series are by one of the United States most significant and revered African-American artists from the 20th-century, and in them Lawrence examines the African Diaspora and its violent effects, an issue which is very much present today.”

Jacob Lawrence’s “Toussaint L’Ouverture” Series: The Haitian Revolution comes from the Collection of Harriet and Harmon Kelley in San Antonio. Accompanied with descriptive text, Lawrence’s works of art highlight his style using jagged forms fleshed out with bold patches of color.

Jacob Lawrence, General Toussaint L’Ouverture from “Toussaint L’Ouverture” series, 1986, screenprint. Collection of Harriet and Harmon Kelley.

Museum Curator Kate Green adds, “His style contributes to his storytelling in that he uses warm earth tones—browns, reds, deep blues and greens—to connect the cultural story to the land on which it happens, and even to mother land.”

Without a doubt, Lawrence has paved the way for other artists alike and is noted as an important and influential painter. He emerged during a turning point in time, shaping trends and social struggles into his now unique style.

Virginia Mecklenburg, Chief Curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum told The Smithsonian Magazine, “A century after his birth, his work remains relevant and resonant, thanks to his remarkable storytelling. The human dimension in his art makes people who have no interest in art, or no experience with, or real knowledge of art, look at Lawrence’s work and … see stories that they could find in their own lives.”

Jacob Lawrence’s “Toussaint L’Ouverture” Series: The Haitian Revolution is supplemented with the following programming:

• Exhibition Celebration Honoring Harriet and Harmon Kelley: Saturday, December 8, 12:00-2:00 pm. Members are invited to celebrate the exhibition in company of Harriet and Harmon Kelley.

• Art Talk, El Paso Museum of Art, Saturday, December 8, 2:00-3:00 pm with EPMA Curator Dr. Kate Green.

Support for this exhibition is provided by Texas Commission on the Arts. Educational programming for this exhibition is supported in part by Texas Women for the Arts.

Tags: american art

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