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The Architect

Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000) The Architect, 1959 Egg tempera on masonite 13 5/8 × 17 1/2 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of Mr. and Mrs. James Harithas 1982.1

Jacob Lawrence was a keen observer of contemporary life and drew inspiration throughout his career from the years he spent living in Harlem. The Architect connects with Lawrence’s enduring interest in labor and construction. With arms outstretched at his drafting table, the architect orchestrates a scene of growth and progress for the community he sees before him. The painting also carries religious undertones: steel construction beams punctuating the skyline evoke crosses, perhaps suggesting a notion of salvation through building a better world.