Video: Clown by Jacob Lawrence

Tia Williams, Visitor Experience Floor Lead at NOMA, shares one of her favorite works in Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club.

Painted a year before Jacob Lawrence’s second trip to Nigeria, “Clown” shows a somber figure wearing a blue suit and holding a bunch of flowers in his differently painted, oversized hands. Lawrence made the painting during the Civil Rights era, when many of his images referenced sociopolitical injustices. With the clown’s expression, Lawrence represents the hollowness of humor.


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Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club was made possible in part by major funding from National Endowment for the Humanities, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Getty Foundation Paper Project, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the IFPDA Foundation. The Wyeth Foundation for American Art provided support for the exhibition catalogue.