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Jacob Lawrence Self-Portrait

Artist
Jacob A. Lawrence, 7 Sep 1917 - 9 Jun 2000
Sitter
Jacob A. Lawrence, 7 Sep 1917 - 9 Jun 2000
Date
c. 1965 and 1996
Type
Drawing
Medium
Ink and gouache over charcoal on paper
Dimensions
Image: 47.8cm x 29cm (18 13/16" x 11 7/16")
Sheet: 48.2cm x 30.7cm (19" x 12 1/16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
© The Jacob & Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Object number
NPG.96.190
Culture
Jacob A. Lawrence: American\African American
Exhibition Label
In about 1965, when Jacob Lawrence began this self-portrait, he had assumed a visibility beyond anything previously accorded to an African American artist. The 1941 exhibition of his epic series of sixty paintings, originally entitled "The Migration of the Negro," had firmly established his reputation. Composition, color, and abstract pattern became the root of Lawrence’s style as he painted the black experience. The human face and figure, normally subject to entrenched artistic conventions, were to him just shapes to be simplified or distorted. With the exception of a small group of self-portraits that he made in the 1960s, Lawrence rarely attempted portraiture. In 1996, he updated this drawing of himself, adding bands of black around the face and changing its contours to a single sweeping curve. Transforming a linear drawing into a muscular interplay of black and white, the likeness reflects both the strength and the anxieties of the artist’s advancing age.
Cuando comenzó este autorretrato, hacia 1965, Jacob Lawrence disfrutaba de una visibilidad nunca antes concedida a un artista afroamericano. En 1941, la exposición de su épica serie de sesenta pinturas titulada "La migración del negro" había cimentado su reputación. La composición, el color y los patrones abstractos constituyeron la base del estilo con que abordó la experiencia del pueblo negro. La cara y la figura humanas, normalmente sujetas a arraigadas convenciones artísticas, eran para él meras formas que simplificaba o distorsionaba. Con excepción de un pequeño grupo de autorretratos que hizo en la década de 1960, Lawrence rara vez abordó el género del retrato. En 1996 actualizó este dibujo de sí mismo con bandas negras alrededor de la cara, convirtiendo los contornos en una amplia curva continua. El dibujo lineal original quedó así transformado en un vigoroso juego de negro y blanco que refleja la fuerza y a la vez las ansiedades del artista ya avanzado en años.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection