In the early twentieth century, large numbers of African Americans moved from the rural
South to the urban North to escape Jim Crow oppression and seek economic
opportunities. In 1940-41, artist Jacob Lawrence addressed this subject in a series of
captioned paintings he titled The Migration of the Negro. He painted in a simplified,
geometric style he called dynamic cubism. Each picture was accompanied by a short
narrative description. Looking at his art, how would you describe dynamic cubism?
In what ways does Lawrence use dynamic cubism to express these narratives? Use the
slides of Panel 42 and 52 to support your comments.
Panel 42: "They also made it very difficult for migrants leaving the South. They often
went to railroad stations and arrested the Negroes wholesale, which in turn made them
miss their trains."
Panel 52: "One of the most violent race riots occurred in East St. Louis."
Can you find further works by Jacob Lawrence? How do they illustrate Dynamic
Cubism? Feel free to add other points, information or resources about Jacob Lawrence
The Harlem Renaissance was a rich period of art and culture in the history of America.
It coincided with the Jazz Era when many top African-American musicians performed. It
was also a great literary movement. Many Black authors used African-American
artworks as illustrations for their writings.
explore some other examples of art by these artists online. What subjects do we see in
the art of the Harlem Renaissance that illustrate this exciting era of American history?
Feel free to expand upon the prompt and add resources or topics related to the music,
arts, writing and history of the Harlem Renaissance.
Aaron Douglas, The Prodigal Son.
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