American painter known for his portrayal of African-American historical subjects and contemporary life. Lawrence referred to his style as "dynamic cubism", although by his own account the primary influence was not so much French art as the shapes and colors of Harlem. He brought the African-American experience to life using blacks and browns juxtaposed with vivid colors. He also taught and spent 16 years as a professor at the University of Washington.
Lawrence is among the best known twentieth-century African-American painters, known for his modernist illustrations of everyday life as well as narratives of African-American history and historical figures.