a small group of human figures created with solid shapes of muted red, green, black, brown, and white, brandish swords behind a wall under a blue and black sky

Jacob Lawrence and the Legend of John Brown

Larry & Barbara Marshall Family Balcony, 404

Jacob Lawrence and the Legend of John Brown presents a recently acquired portfolio of prints by the acclaimed Black modernist Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000). Lawrence originally produced The Legend of John Brown as paintings in 1941, but, due to problems related to the stability of the gouache used in the series, in 1974 he collaborated with printers to translate this important body of work to screen prints. Lawrence drew inspiration for the 22 prints in the series from research he conducted at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, notably Franklin B. Sanborn’s The Life and Letters of John Brown, Liberator of Kansas and Martyr of Virginia, published in 1885. Lawrence’s account of Brown’s life and death includes consideration of his time in Kansas, where Brown first employed violence in his quest to rid the country of slavery.

The portfolio was purchased with a generous gift from Jeff and Mary Weinberg and the exhibition is supported by KU Student Senate and the Linda Inman Bailey Exhibitions Fund.

Selected images