Along with my good friend and fellow painter Kathryn Geismar, I took a field trip today to the Danforth Art Museum in Framingham,, MA, which is about 20 miles west of Boston. The Danforth is a small regional museum, and what it lacks in size it makes up in quality.
I was especially taken with the exhibit of the Jacob Lawrence’s series of silk-screen prints, The Legend of John Brown, based on his 1941 gouache paintings. These works illustrate the life of controversial abolitionist John Brown. Originally completed in Gouache in the 1940’s, and then later commissioned as a series of exquisite silk screens prints in the 1970s. All of these images (22 in all) are beautifully composed and have an incredibly lush color palette that takes full advantage of the silk screen process.
Like the strong compositional and narrative works of Piero della Francesca and Diego Rivera, these works need no words to convey the impact of their story. Powerful, memorable, and impressive!
I was also moved by the Winfred Rembert’s autobiographical paintings depicting the day-to-day existence of African Americans in the segregated South. His works are created in stamped-leather and painted with shoe polish. A number of works on display were depicting his days on a chain gang in the deep south, and his graphical style and the strength of his composition, like Jacob Lawrence, make you feel the full force of the injustice and bigotry he suffered. And somehow the stamped-leather technique added to the visceral nature of the imagery. -PK
ps: A special thanks to our docent Rebecca Matthews for being so generous with her time and expertise.