Casein over graphite
Support: Cream Grumbacher (blind stamp lower left) wove paper
Sheet: 56 x 76.4 cm (22 1/16 x 30 1/16 in.)
Delia E. Holden Fund 1994.2
© The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Catalogue raisonné: Nesbett and DuBois P49-06
Jacob Lawrence included a self portrait in this work, at left, showing himself so closely focused on his canvas that it obscures his face.
Jacob Lawrence established an important and successful career early on, working with a prestigious New York gallery and becoming the first African American artist to be represented in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. He encountered anxiety and self-doubt, however, leading him to undertake a voluntary stay at Hillside Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Queens from 1949 through 1950. While there, he produced a series of drawings, to which this sheet belongs, depicting his experiences. In the present work, patients paint together, guided by a physician who saw art as a means of therapy. Lawrence experimented with geometric forms, flattened planes, and slanting recession of space to shift the image's perspective and place the viewer within the scene.
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