Art Analysis: The Migration

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On the 12th of September, I went to the De Young Museum where they had a showcase of a wide range of art pieces, such as paintings, sculptures, and ancient artifacts ranging from many the different time periods and cultures from around the world. However, the one particular artwork that caught my eye would have to be the 12x18” painting called the Migration. It was a painting about the movement of nearly two million African Americans out of the rural South to the cities of the North, Midwest, and West by an artist named Jacob Lawrence in the year 1947, which is located on the first floor of the museum. The artist of this painting, Jacob Lawrence, used tempera paint as his medium. Some of the things that were present in the painting, from…show more content…
Besides the little amounts of yellows and reds that were used here, this painting lacks the presence of warm colors. It took me a moment to piece together on the reason why Lawrence did so. The colors that Lawrence chose to use for Migration helps portray the tragedies and the sorrows that the African Americans went through around the First and Second World Wars since the entire painting is mostly composed of muted colors. He painted in mostly dark colors such as brown, dark green, black and grey, these colors are not very vibrant or bold to look at thus it sets a gloomy atmosphere to the painting and expresses the pain that the African Americans were experiencing. However, this could be Lawrence’s intention to do so, by giving the impression to the audience that this is not an uplifting painting, but a sad, depressing one. I believe that the lack of the bright, attractive colors in this painting was a really wise decision because those colors would naturally yell out fun and playful but with the toned down soft colors gives it a more serious and sullen feel to it. If Lawrence did decide to go with the beautiful, eye-catching colors, then it would not have conveyed the same message that it currently…show more content…
Most of the time, the purpose of paintings is to either capture a specific moment in time, to express one’s emotion, or just for the joy of it. And in Lawrence’s case for the painting of Migration, I think that it was used to tell a story. It acts as if the painting is like binoculars through which we can clearly see the history of the events happening during the First and Second World Wars, even if one was not present at the time to witness what was happening. It gave us an impression of what had happened during this time through the lens of what Lawrence, himself, had seen and heard from his own family’s experience from the migration. From this painting, you can get a glimpse of the pain and hardship that the African Americans faced. In my opinion, I believe that with certain events in history, they are better explained through art and observation and that is exactly what Jacob Lawrence did. He told the story about the Great Migration, which focused on the shift of many African Americans moving away from the South. This showcases the journey, the long, tedious travel in which millions of African Americans took in order to escape from racism to where there were more economic opportunities as well as one step closer to
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