Facebook Crosspost: 2020-June-1

Looking for inspiration for your “Portraits of the Pandemic” exhibition submission? What about some inspiration from art history?

Featured Historic Self Portrait: Jacob Lawrence

American artist Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) was best known for his dynamic and vibrant depictions of African American life and history. Unlike many artists, he rarely engaged in self-portraiture. In a rare self-portrait Lawrence portrayed himself as an artist in his studio in Seattle, Washington. The artist is surrounded by his tools and materials–tubes and jars of paint, clamps, a drill, a lathe, and a hammer. On the left, one of Lawrence’s paintings hangs on the wall. It is an image of Harriet Tubman leading slaves to freedom, originally executed for a children’s book, Harriet and the Promised Land.

Jacob Lawrence, Self-Portrait, 1977. Gouache and tempera on paper.

In a self-portrait rendered in ink over graphite on paper, Lawrence concentrated his appearance into a few essential lines and shapes. A black arc describes the shape of his skull. His mustache is a complex of wavy lines flanked by heavier curves evoking folds of aging flesh. Lawrence left most of his face white to set off the abstracted black shapes of his nose, eyes, mouth, and mustache.

Jacob Lawrence, Self-Portrait, 1993, Ink over graphite on paper

Feeling inspired? Click the link below for information on how to submit your self-portrait: