New York

New York

“One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North”

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street
March 31–September 7, 2015

Curated by Leah Dickerman

Between 1900 and 1960, an estimated five million African Americans migrated from Southern states to urban centers in the North, a process accelerated in 1915 by the wartime industrial boom. In a series of sixty tempera panels created in 1940–41, Jacob Lawrence captured in striking color and form the experience of these individuals on the move. The paintings, usually split between MoMA and the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC—the show’s organizers, in collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture—will be reunited this spring for the first time in two decades. Scholar Henry Louis Gates has argued that the Great Migration caused the emergence of a new culture, and Lawrence’s images bear witness to the massive social, political, and demographic transformations of the period. Seeing the paintings alongside contemporaneous responses in painting, photography, literature, and music will highlight Lawrence’s series as a trenchant reformulation of historical accounting in the modern period.