Did You Know? Jacob Lawrence Edition

We’re thrilled to have a brand new DC museum neighbor starting this  weekend! The National Museum of African American History and Culture officially opens its doors on Saturday, Sept. 24, and in celebration we’re highlighting the work of Jacob Lawrence, a key artist from the new Smithsonian’s permanent collection (and the star of a special exhibition at the Phillips this fall):

1) Jacob Lawrence painted all 60 panels of his seminal work The Migration Series simultaneously. To keep the colors consistent, Lawrence applied one hue at a time to every painting where it was to appear.


Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel no. 3: From every southern town migrants left by the hundreds to travel north., between 1940 and 1941. Casein tempera on hardboard, 12 x 18 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1942 © 2016 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

2) Lawrence became the first African American artist to be represented by a New York gallery when The Migration Series was shown at Manhattan’s Downtown Gallery in 1941. It was after seeing the works here that museum founder Duncan Phillips fell in love with Lawrence’s work, and gave the artist his first solo exhibition show in 1942.


Installation of The Migration Series at Downtown Gallery

3) Jacob Lawrence was 24 years old when he painted The Migration Series. He did so with the help of his wife Gwendolyn Knight, who assisted in prepping the boards and writing captions.


Jacob Lawrence working on Panel no. 55 of The Migration Series

Welcome Back, Migration Series!

Migration Series_dining room

Installation view of Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series, currently on view in The original Phillips house.

We’re welcoming back The Phillips Collection’s 30 panels of Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series with some new digs. The panels returned in September after a trip to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where they were reunited with the 30 panels owned by MoMA in the exhibition One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Works. If you missed it, the 60 panels will come together again at the Phillips in fall 2016. For now, the Phillips-owned panels are on display in what was once the original family dining room.