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Pool Parlor

Jacob Lawrence (American, Atlantic City, New Jersey 1917–2000 Seattle, Washington )

Watercolor and gouache on paper
H. 31 1/8, W. 22 7/8 in. (79.1 x 58.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1942
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2010 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    Jacob Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1917. A painter, illustrator, and educator, he received his early art training at the Utopia Settlement House in Philadelphia. In 1932 he studied with Charles Alston at the Harlem Art Center and five years later received a working scholarship to the American Artists School, where he studied until 1939. He participated in the easel-painting section of the Federal Art Project from 1939 to 1940 and served in the Coast Guard. During World War II, Lawrence received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1946. Among the places he has taught are Black Mountain College, Pratt Institute, Brandeis University, the New School for Social Research, and the University of Washington in Seattle.

    Lawrence's work has always been dominated by his concern for social issues and historical events, particularly as they affect black Americans. "Pool Parlor," which earned him a prize in the "Artists for Victory" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in 1942, demonstrates this concern. It is one of the few works by Lawrence that is not part of a series, a form the artist often uses as a vehicle to explore the full range of his ideas. "Pool Parlor" is rendered in flat geometric shapes and a restricted palette, with the characteristic exaggeration of limbs, gestures, and postures reinforcing the narrative of the painting. This style gave way to more expressive linear play and three-dimensional modeling in the artist's later work.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: [lower right]: J. Lawrence 42

  • Exhibition History

    Washington, DC: The Phillips Collection, May 26 - August 19, 2001. New York: The Whitney Museum of American Art, November 8, 2001 - February 3, 2002. ¦Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence¦. Pg. 112, Plate 29 (illus. in color).

    New York: Midtown Payson Gallery, January 12 - February 25, 1995. ¦Jacob Lawrence¦. Pg. 5 illus. in color.

    Brooklyn, New York: The Brooklyn Museum, October 1 - December 1, 1987. Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, July 19 - September 6, 1987. Washington, DC: The Phillips Collection, April 3 - June 1, 1987. Atlanta, Georgia: High Museum of Art, December 16, 1986 - March 1, 1987. Oakland, California: The Oakland Museum, September 26 - November 30, 1986. Seattle, Washington: Seattle Art Museum, July 10 - September 7, 1986. ¦Jacob Lawrence, The American Painter¦.

    Bronx, New York: The Bronx Museum of the Arts, February 1 - March 24, 1985. Brooklyn, New York: Long Island University, April 5 - June 2, 1985. Queens, New York: Jamaica Art Center, June 15 - August 24, 1985. Staten Island, New York: Staten Island Museum, September 6 - October 20, 1985. New York: City College of New York, October 25 - December 13, 1985. ¦The Artist Celebrates New York: Selected Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art¦.

    New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, May 16 - July 7, 1974. St. Louis, Missouri: The St. Louis Art Museum, August 1 - September 1, 1974. Birmingham, Alabama: Birmingham Museum of Art, September 23 - October 23, 1974. Seattle, Washington: Seattle Art Museum, November 15 - December 15, 1974. Kansas City, Missouri: Nelson Atkins Gallery of Art, January 6 - February 6, 1975. New Orleans, Louisiana: New Orleans Museum of Art, February 27 - March 27, 1975. ¦Jacob Lawrence Travelling Exhibition¦. Pg. 56, no. 82 (listed).

    New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1942. ¦Artists for Victory Exhibition¦. Cat. pg. 17.

  • References

    Nesbett, Peter T. Editor. Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence. University of Washington Press, Seattle and London in Association with Jaob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle and New York, 2001. pg. 112, pl. 29, illus.

    Porter, James A. . Modern Negro Art. Washington D.C.: Howard University Press, 1992, p. 267, illus.

    Seattle Art Museum, Jacob Lawrence, American Painter. University of Washington Press, 1986. pl. 25 (illus.), pg. 84.

  • See also