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In New Orleans Lawrence experienced firsthand the daily reality of Jim Crow segregation, where legislation required that he ride in the back of city buses and live in a racially segregated neighborhood. His anger is apparent in Bar and Grill, which shows the interior of a café with a wall that divides the space into two distinct realms—one occupied by whites, the other by blacks. Lawrence says little about the individuals beyond their skin color and the way they are treated (customers on the left are cooled by a ceiling fan), but the skewed vantage point from behind the bar emphasizes the artificiality of the two separate worlds.

Details

  • Title: Bar and Grill
  • Creator: Jacob Lawrence
  • Date Created: 1941
  • Physical Dimensions: 16 3/4 x 22 3/4 in. (42.5 x 57.8 cm)
  • Credit Line: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Henry Ward Ranger through the National Academy of Design
  • Artist: Born Atlantic City, NJ 1917 – Died Seattle, WA 2000
  • Medium: gouache on paper

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