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Jacob Lawrence:
“The Hiroshima Series”

Hallie Ford Museum of Art
Salem OR Thru Oct 25, 2003

Jacob Lawrence - Hiroshima – Boy with Kite
Jacob Lawrence, Hiroshima – Boy with Kite (1982), gouache
[Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Salem, OR, Thru Oct 25, 2003]

Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Salem, OR thru Oct 25 The late Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) began his career as a Harlem Renaissance painter and spent his later years teaching and painting in Seattle. He became one of the most distinctive and notable African-American artists of the 20th Century, with a powerful and widely-recognized signature style. His subjects ranged from contemporary scenes of Harlem life to significant social and historical events.

In a career spanning 70 years, Lawrence applied his gift for storytelling to pictorial dramatizations of texts. The gouache paintings in this exhibit were created in 1982 for a special edition of John Hersey’s book Hiroshima, which Lawrence was commissioned to illustrate by the Limited Editions Club of New York.

Lawrence’s Hiroshima Series is an honest, emotional response to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. His Matisse-like figures with flattened perspectives are fear-stricken characters, their silhouettes are as agitated as their ghostly skull-like heads. Lawrence painted them against radiant, intoxicating hues of fuchsia, reds, and yellows that reek of nuclear energy. Trapped in the exploding environment, his figures echo the shocking impact and devastation of the blast.

The exhibit was scheduled partially as an educational tool for an interdisciplinary course at Willamette University on world views, which emphasizes war and peace. The Hallie Ford will show two films on the life and career of Lawrence on September 16 at 7pm.

© Allyn Cantor

 Tue, Sep 16, 2003