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The Workshop

The Workshop, 1972, Lithograph
Jacob Lawrence (American, 1917 – 2000)

One of the most significant artists of the 20th century, Jacob Lawrence is widely acclaimed for his narrative paintings depicting significant moments in African American history. In The Workshop, Lawrence uses his self-defined style of “dynamic cubism” to depict a group of carpenters. Lawrence was heavily influenced by his surroundings while growing up in Harlem, New York in the 1930s. He began incorporating images of builders in his paintings regularly in the mid-1940s, but The Workshop is the first of Lawrence’s prints to address the subject.

Lawrence began to produce prints mid-career, at the age of 46.  Many of his print series were commissioned projects for re-imagined versions of paintings completed in his earlier years (often because the original works were too fragile to travel or be exhibited). Other prints were conceived specifically for public and private commissions for commercial art galleries or non-profit organizations such as the NAACP or the Amistad Research Center. Lawrence experimented widely with silkscreen, etching, and drypoint, and in the 1970s he began to collaborate with the master printmakers in efforts to simplify the process.