January 6–February 6, 2010
DC Moore Gallery is pleased to announce its current exhibitions, Jacob Lawrence and Jack Levine, featuring paintings and drawings by two of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Though from different backgrounds ⎯ Lawrence (1917-2000) grew up in Harlem and Levine (b. 1915) in Boston’s South End ⎯ their lives parallel each other in several ways, from the arc of their careers to their lifelong dedication to unique artistic visions. The exhibitions, which continue through February 6, are timed to coincide with Jack Levine’s 95th birthday.
Born within two years of one another, Levine and Lawrence both burst upon the scene and achieved national recognition while still in their early twenties. In 1937, Levine exhibited his painting, The Feast of Pure Reason, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York to much critical acclaim, while, in 1941, Lawrence completed his epic sixty panel series, The Migration of the Negro, which was soon acquired and divided between the Museum of Modern Art and the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. Both artists also joined Edith Halpert’s prestigious Downtown Gallery at age twenty-four, Levine in 1939 and Lawrence in 1941.
Each developed a highly individualized modernist approach, an expressive mode of painting that they often used to critique the injustice and dishonesty in American society. They also shared a commitment to figurative art throughout their long careers, disregarding trends in the art world that did not suit their purposes.
Lawrence focused much of his attention on aspects of African American life, with a socially engaged historical awareness in keeping with his life long conviction that art can effect social change. At the same time, his art is essentially humanistic, exploring a number of themes and ideas that address the universality of the human experience.
The exhibition highlights the range of Lawrence’s work, including Nigerian market scenes that capture his impressions of the rich cultural life of that country, done in response to an extended stay there in 1964. Also featured is a series of twenty-three lively ink drawings from 1969 that interpret Aesop’s Fables for a contemporary audience, which are being exhibited in New York as a complete set for the first time. In addition, selections from his Builders series express his belief in the everyday ideals of collective struggle, cooperation, and improvement.