The Library (1960) by Jacob Lawrence

The Library - Jacob Lawrence - 1960

Artwork Information

TitleThe Library
ArtistJacob Lawrence
Dimensions60.9 x 75.8 cm (24 x 29 7/8 in.)
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationSmithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, US

About The Library

The artwork entitled “The Library” was created by artist Jacob Lawrence in 1960. It is a tempera on board painting, measuring 60.9 x 75.8 cm, and is classified under the expressionism movement as a genre painting. This piece is currently housed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, United States.

“The Library” features a dynamic, colorful scene depicting multiple figures engrossed in reading and studying within the confines of a library. The composition is highly stylized, with figures rendered in a flat, angular manner that is characteristic of Lawrence’s work. The use of bold, unmodulated colors and the juxtaposition of figures in various poses lends a rhythmic quality to the painting. The subjects are concentrated and silent, absorbed in the act of acquiring knowledge through books, which are prominently featured throughout the artwork. The scene communicates a sense of communal learning and intellectual activity, yet each figure is distinctly individualized through posture and clothing. While the artwork employs abstracted forms and a simplified visual language, it nonetheless captures the essence of the library experience—a space dedicated to contemplation, education, and the pursuit of understanding.

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