One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North

One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North

April 03, 2015–September 07, 2015

Jacob Lawrence. The Migration Series. 1940-41. Panel 1: “During the World War there was a great migration North by Southern Negros.” Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12" (45.7 x 30.5 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C. Acquired 1942. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

The Museum of Modern Art marks the centennial of the beginning of the Great Migration, the multi-decade mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North, with the exhibition One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North from April 3 through September 7, 2015. The show highlights the ways in which Lawrence and others in his circles developed a set of innovative artistic strategies to offer perspectives on this crucial episode in American history. An extensive program of public events, performances, digital resources, and publications that underscore the movement’s transformative impact on American culture, politics, and society will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition. One-Way Ticket is organized by The Museum of Modern Art and The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., in collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library.

One-Way Ticket reunites all 60 panels of Lawrence’s Migration Series at MoMA for the first time in 20 years, and includes other accounts of the movement in a broad variety of media, including novels and poems by writers such as Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Richard Wright; music by Josh White, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday; photographs by Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Gordon Parks, and Robert McNeill; sociological tracts by Carter Woodson, Charles Johnson, Emmett J. Scott, and Walter White; and paintings by Charles Alston, Romare Bearden, and Charles White. The exhibition grounds Lawrence’s work within this rich context, shedding light on the ways in which he drew upon and transformed contemporary models for representing black history in America, and suggesting how the Migration Series functioned as an innovative form of political speech.

The exhibition at MoMA is organized Leah Dickerman, Curator, with Jodi Roberts, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture. The Phillips Collection will present an exhibition featuring the Migration Series in fall 2016, organized by Elsa Smithgall, Curator.

The MoMA presentation and accompanying initiatives are made possible by the Ford Foundation.

Major support is provided by The Museum of Modern Art’s Research and Scholarly Publications endowment established through the generosity of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Edward John Noble Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Perry Bass, and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Challenge Grant Program.

Generous funding is provided by The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art, Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis, MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation, Karole Dill Barkley and Eric J. Barkley, and the MoMA Annual Exhibition Fund.

Special thanks to The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation.

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