The Art of Ivy: Jacob Lawrence

In honor of Black History Month, Robert I. Brown, whom Ivy Style wrote about here, pays tribute to the art and style of painter Jacob Lawrence.

Although Jacob Lawrence was a high school dropout, he adopted the Ivy League Look later in life, as did many African Americans involved in the arts who wanted to appear both hip and dignified.

Born in Atlantic City, Lawrence took classes at the Harlem Art Workshop under the direction of African American artist Charles Alston. “Dynamic cubism” — the style of painting Lawrence was known for — led him to several awards for his work. In 1940 he rose to great acclaim as the leading African American artist thanks to a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

When it comes to the Ivy League Look in its purest form, less is always more. In the photo above, Lawrence is sharply outfitted in essential Ivy League style: herringbone jacket, crisp white buttondown and a black knit tie.

In the image below, he takes the same shirt and tie combo and pairs it with another classic Ivy jacket in corduroy:

As for Black History Month, it began in 1926 as Negro History Week and was founded by Carter G. Woodson, who earned his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1912, the second African American to earn a doctorate there after WEB Du Bois. — ROBERT I. BROWN

Robert I. Brown is a style blogger who has been featured on the websites Valet and We Are the Market, and in Complex Magazine. He has blogged for Details magazine and in December 2010 was nominated for Best Lifestyle Blog by Every Guyed.

10 Comments on "The Art of Ivy: Jacob Lawrence"

  1. Richard Meyer | February 18, 2011 at 4:19 am |

    Nice collar roll

  2. Great post. I love it when Ivy Style looks at the roots of Trad style.

  3. This man is such an inspiration.

  4. Jancis Robertson | February 18, 2011 at 10:16 am |

    Lovely stuff. I had no idea he was an Ivy guy. Very interesting. Soft, easy and stylish Ivy. Inspirational. A wonderful artist too,

  5. Who is Michael Bastian?

  6. I like this. But African-American’s didn’t “adopt” any Ivy League look.

    They had their own colleges, some of which were Hampton, Howard, Morehouse, Spelman and countless others.

    They probably didn’t associate with any Ivy types and by in large probably weren’t influenced by the Ivy’s sartorial choices. Remember we were pretty segregated then.

    They didn’t adopt any “Ivy” look. They were wearing clothes that reflected that they were collegians.

    Now Jacob Lawrence may have adopted it from Ivy patrons but he also may adopted it from Black patrons who had gone to elite black colleges. Who is to say?


  7. I think the person above, W, is either confused or has been severely mis-educated. But don’t worry neither are completely your fault.

    Please do not try to speak for black people as a whole ever again in your entire life. It is offensive. I’m sure that you don’t have much of a clue of what happened on the campuses of HBCU’s “back then” or what life is like at HBCU’s today.

    Also using the term “they” is an equivalent of saying “you people” and as most people know that is inappropriate.Please select a better set of pronouns.

    Furthermore, we do not have our own colleges. People of all races can attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities. They were created as an educational and vocational safe haven, when Predominantly White Institutions wanted to not only remain predominantly white but rather completely white.

    Amongst the Black community and those who are aware of the legacy of greatness and standard of excellence at premiere HBCU’s ,the universities that you named, are regarded as the black Ivy League.

  8. B. I have a pretty good idea of what went on at HBCU’s then and now.

    My father and most of his siblings attended Shaw in it’s heyday. I attended Hampton and after Hampton and an Ivy League school.

    I know what I am talking about. Maybe it is you, who doesn’t.


  9. W.

    I am a Hamptonian as well, and I believe that I too know what I am talking about.

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