Artist of the Month

February 2017

gross-bettelheim imperialism

Jolan Gross-Bettellheim, Imperialism, 1950, Lithograph

Jolan Gross-Bettelheim (American, born Hungary, 1900-1972) remains a fairly enigmatic figure in American art of the early twentieth century. Little is known of her life and artistic motivations. Art historians have marveled at her style and technique while clueless as to key biographical events. It is known that she was born in Hungary and studied at the Budapest School of Fine Art, Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna, Akademie der Bildenden Künst in Berlin, and the Académie de Grande Chaumière in Paris in the years between 1919 and 1925 before moving to the United States with her husband Frigyes Bettelheim. They settled in Cleveland, enrolling in the Cleveland School of Art. She worked with lithography at a time when it was relatively popular in Cleveland, having recently been recognized as a legitimate art form. Gross-Bettelheim participated in the Cleveland chapter of the Graphic Arts Division of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Her style was strongly influenced by the European movements of Futurism and Cubism. It was also considered highly masculine, with its sharp contrasts and repetitive lines. An avid Communist, she was a member of both the John Reed Club and the American Artists’ Congress. Thirteen years later, the Bettelheims relocated to New York City. After the death of her husband in 1956, Gross-Bettelheim returned to Hungary, only one month before the Soviet invasion. Almost nothing is known of the last two decades of her life; she died in relative obscurity in 1972.

 

January 2017

wood_january

 

Grant Wood, January, 1936, Lithograph 

Grant Wood (American, 1891-1942) was a Realist painter most well-known for his depictions of rural American landscapes, particularly of the Midwest. This imagery was characteristic of the American Regionalists, a loosely associated group of artists of which Wood was a prominent member, along with John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton.  The Regionalists championed figurative representation at a time when abstraction was beginning to dominate national and international art alike, reaching the height of their popularity in the 1930s; it is hardly a coincidence that such a nationalist and traditionalist movement representing the American heartland peaked during the Great Depression. Wood spent most of his life in Iowa; he was raised in Cedar Rapids, where he was apprenticed to a metalsmith. After spending several years studying with the Handicraft Guild in Minneapolis, Wood enrolled in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1913. Between 1922 and 1928, he made several trips to Europe, where late Northern Renaissance artworks, like those of the Dutch masters, had significant stylistic impact on him. Upon returning to Iowa to live permanently after his travels, he began to teach painting at the School of Art at the University of Iowa until 1941, shortly before his death of pancreatic cancer.

December 2016

eichenberg_the_lights

Fritz Eichenberg, City Lights, 1934, Wood engraving

Fritz Eichenberg, (German-American, 1901-1990), was born to a Jewish family in Cologne, Germany. He studied at the Municipal School of Applied Arts in Cologne and the Academy of Graphic Art in Leipzig.  In 1923 he relocated to Berlin to further his career as an artist, where he found work illustrating books and newspapers. Growing wary of the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism, Eichenberg fled to New York City in 1933. He began teaching at the New School for Social Research and the Pratt Institute. He became the head of the art department of the University of Rhode Island, Like many other artists at the time, he was also employed by the WPA. In 1947, he was elected to the National Academy of Design as an Associate, and was nominated to full membership in 1949. He is well-known for his illustrations of classic literature by authors such as the Bronte sisters, Tolstoy, and Edgar Allen Poe.

November 2016

citron_squid_under_pier

 

Minna Citron, Squid Under Pier, 1948, Color etching 

Minna Citron (American, 1896-1991) was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1896. As a child she moved to Brooklyn, and after she married and had two sons she began attending the School of Applied Design for Women. In 1928 she started studying at the Art Students League of New York under well-known artists such as Kenneth Hayes Miller and John Sloan. She had her first solo exhibition in 1930.  Four years later she divorced and moved to Union Square, where she became associated with the Fourteenth Street artists such as Isabel Bishop and Raphael Soyer. She began her career as a social realist painter and printmaker, a style she pursued through teaching and mural painting for the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s. The 1940s, however, saw her shift aesthetically into abstraction. She traveled and exhibited internationally throughout the twentieth century, and in 1985 she received the Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award.

October 2016

albright_self_portrait

Ivan Albright, Self-Portrait, 55 East Division, 1947, Lithograph

Ivan Albright (American, 1897-1983) was a painter and printmaker renowned for his detailed, grisly images that emphasized death and decay. He was born in Chicago, the son of a well-known painter. Initially rejecting his father’s path of a professional artist, he first studied architecture and engineering. After enlisting in World War I and serving briefly, he tried his hand at commercial advertising and working in an architecture practice before enrolling with his twin at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) to study painting. He continued his fine arts education after graduation from SAIC at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and the National Academy of Design in New York. Returning to Chicago to share studio space with his father and brother, Albright soon began accumulating awards and recognition for his distinctive style. He won prizes at Carnegie Internationals, Corcoran Biennials, and Whitney Annuals during his lifetime, and was commissioned by MGM Studios to paint the titular portrait for a film adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945). He was the subject of a major solo exhibition organized by the Art Institute of Chicago in 1964, which then traveled to the Whitney Museum. He taught and worked actively until his death in 1983.

September 2016

Bothwell_Spectator

Dorr Bothwell, Spectator Viewing Tugboat, 1943, Screenprint 

Dorr Bothwell (American, 1902-2000) was a painter and printmaker who was born in San Francisco and decided at an early age that she would be an artist. She began studying at the California School of Fine Arts and met artist Rudolph Schaeffer, who was incredibly influential on both her own artwork and her teaching. She worked for the Federal Arts Project as a muralist in Los Angeles during the Great Depression before co-writing, “Notan: The Dark-Light Principle of Design”, which became a seminal art textbook. Later in her career she taught at numerous art schools, primarily in California. Bothwell’s teaching was mostly in service of her far-flung international travels to Indonesia, France, Africa, and Mexico, among many others. Her style has been described as fluid and ever-exploratory, examining color and space with techniques loosely inspired by Surrealism.

August 2016

cassatt-repose

Mary Cassatt, Repose, 1890, Drypoint

Mary Cassatt (American, 1844 – 1926) is among the best known of the American Impressionists. She was born into a well-off family in Pennsylvania that prized education and travel. As such, she spent part of her youth traveling in Europe studying music, drawing, German, and French. Determined to become a professional artist, she began studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Frustrated with the attitudes of her male professors and classmates, she left the Academy and moved to Paris to study privately with the masters of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (women could not yet attend the Ecole). She worked in the traditional, Salon style for a number of years before striking out into Impressionism at the invitation of her friend Edgar Degas. She became acclaimed for her depictions of the private lives of women and children in domestic settings.

July 2016

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Peggy Bacon, The Patroness, 1927, Drypoint

Peggy Bacon (American, 1895-1987) was born an unconventional family; her parents, both artists, eschewed formal education in favor of a self-taught style of pedagogy which allowed Bacon to pursue her interests in the ancient world, including mythology and history. She had no formal artistic training until attending the School of Applied Design for Women, soon transferring to the School of Fine and Applied Arts, completing her education at the Art Students League from 1915-1920. She became well-known for her satirical prints and drawings; she also worked as an illustrator on over 60 books, a number of which she also authored. During her lifetime, she had more than 30 solo exhibitions and won a Guggenheim Fellowship for her work in the graphic arts. In 1942 and 1980 she received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

June 2016

golub_3_heads-copy

Leon Golub, Three Heads II, 1949-50, Color etching 

Leon Golub (American 1922-2004) was a polemical artist, staunchly opposed to war and deeply interested in issues of power. He was born in Chicago, where he studied art history at the University of Chicago. He was drafted to serve in the United States Army as a cartographer. After the war, he returned to study in Chicago at the School of the Art Institute, where he earned a master’s of fine arts and met his wife, fellow artist Nancy Spero. They relocated to Paris, returning to the United States to protest the Vietnam War. Golub’s works confronted the viewer with graphic violence and frank depictions of the war.

 

May 2016

arms_gargoyle

John Taylor Arms, Gothic Spirit, 1922, Etching

John Taylor Arms (American, 1887-1953) was born in Washington, D.C.; he studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before serving as an officer in the United States Navy during World War I. During his travels with the Navy he became enamored with Gothic architecture, particularly cathedrals, which he believed represented the pinnacle of human achievement thus far. He began etching architecture and infrastructure in his home in New York, only to realize that contemporary architecture was too dispassionate to inspire him and etched primarily Gothic cathedrals and medieval architecture for the majority of his nearly 50 year career. Arms is widely recognized for the excellence of his draftsmanship; he used sewing needles to render extremely detailed and precise compositions that utilize only line to express both texture and tone.

April 2016

drewes_manhatten

Werner Drewes, Manhattan, 1954, Color woodcut 

Werner Drewes (American, born Germany, 1899-1985) was a well-regarded painter and printmaker who traveled extensively and studied at the renowned Bauhaus school in Germany. He was drafted into the German army during World War I; at the end of the war he enrolled at several institutions, first studying architecture before switching to applied arts and drawing at the Bauhaus in Weimar. He then began traveling and exhibiting internationally, in locales as far as Japan, San Francisco, and Buenos Aires; he paid for his travels by selling prints and paintings. Returning to the Bauhaus, he worked with Lazlo Moholy-Nagy before the looming threat of World War II forced the closure of the school and the emigration of many of the artists to the United States, including Drewes. Once in the United States, he taught at numerous institutions, such as Brooklyn College, the Institute of Design in Chicago, and Washington University in St. Louis. While teaching, he continued to show in New York galleries, earning high praise from critics.

March 2016

wayne_at_last_iv

 

June Wayne, At Last A Thousand IV, 1965, Lithograph

June Wayne (American, 1918-2011) was born in Chicago with early aspirations to an artistic life. She left school at age fifteen to pursue a professional career in the arts, and had her first exhibition at seventeen with the Boulevard Gallery in Chicago, and showed the following year in Mexico City. Wayne had a remarkable breadth of artistic careers; she was employed with the WPA as part of the Easel Project in Chicago, as a costume jewelry designer in New York, a draftsman in Los Angeles turning blueprints into drawings, and a scriptwriter for radio station WGN back in Chicago. After World War II she returned to California, where she produced an extensive array of lithography. In 1959, the Ford Foundation approached her with the idea of reviving lithography, at that time a struggling medium in the United States. The result was the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, the endeavor for which Wayne is most well-known. It later become the extant Tamarind Institute of the University of New Mexico.

February 2016

shahn

Bernarda Bryson Shahn, The Lovestonite, 1993, Color lithograph

Bernarda Bryson Shahn (American, 1903-2004) was born in Ohio to a socially liberal family who encouraged her interests in writing, social progressivism, and artmaking. She studied printmaking at several Ohio institutions, including the Cleveland School of Art, Ohio State, and Ohio University. She obtained work as a newspaper journalist, and in 1933 met Diego Rivera in New York, along with his assistant Ben Shahn, who would become her life partner and husband. She and Shahn traversed the country during the 1930s to document rural life; she produced a series of lithographs depicting the American frontier. Later turning to illustration, she created several children’s books. She had solo exhibitions at Midtown Galleries, William Paterson University, and Susan Teller Gallery, all during the later part of her life.

January 2016

lewis_chance_meeting

Martin Lewis, Chance Meeting, 1941, Drypoint

Martin Lewis (American, 1881-1962) was born in Australia to a family of eight children and moved to the United States in 1900, where he initially settled in San Francisco. Nine years later he relocated to New York to find steady commercial work, and he began creating his highly regarded etchings  (his earliest known etching work is dated to 1915). Beginning in 1920 Lewis spent two years in Japan, absorbing the influence of Japanese printmaking traditions. His first acclaim in fine art-making came in 1929 with his first solo exhibition and for a time he was able to support himself solely with printmaking. His most prolific output began in 1925 and largely continued for ten years. The Great Depression forced him to Connecticut from New York; upon his return to the city, he found his audience had dissipated. He taught at the Art Students League from 1944 to 1952. Like many of his contemporaries, his work centered on the quotidian experiences of urban life, dramatized with high contrasts, raking light, and strong diagonals.

December 2015

geerlings_grand_canal

Gerald K. Geerlings, Grand Canal, Chicago (Chicago Fair 1933), 1933, Drypoint

Gerald Geerlings (American, 1897-1998) is a lesser known artist who created romantic cityscapes of Chicago, New York, and Paris. Trained as an architect, his prints demonstrate exceptional technical skill and an imposing sense of space that capture the canyons formed by the early twentieth century urban skyscraper. Working primarily in etching, aquatint, and pastel, he completed fewer than sixty prints, each one rendered in exquisite detail.

November 2015

burr_camerlback_mountain

George Elbert Burr, Camelback Mountain Phoenix, circa 1923, Etching 

George Elbert Burr (American, 1859-1939) is best known for his delicate, precise etchings depicting landscapes of the American West in idyllic settings such as the mountains of Colorado and the deserts of Arizona. He was born in Ohio and moved to Missouri in his youth before briefly attending the Art Institute of Chicago. Despite his lack of formal artistic training, he garnered relative success as a commercial artist, illustrating for magazines such as Harper’s Weekly, Scribner’s Magazine, and The Cosmopolitan. He undertook a lengthy project in 1892, creating the catalog for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of jade antiquities. The project was lucrative enough to allow him to travel Europe for several years. Returning to the United States after his travels, he moved to Colorado and later to Arizona, where he completed his renowned etchings.

October 2015

bishop-14th-street

Isabel Bishop, Fourteenth Street, 1931, Etching on cream laid paper

Isabel Bishop (American, 1092-1988) moved to New York in 1918, where she studied painting and illustration first at the New York School of Applied Design for Women and later at the Art Students League. Captivated by urban subject matter, she depicted the shop girls, drifters, laborers, and passerby who populated the neighborhood of both her home and studio–Union Square. She is particularly well-known for her depictions of women in casual settings. In 1936 she became the only female full-time instructor at the Art Students League, only to become the first female executive as the vice president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1946. Bishop earned many awards in her lifetime, including an award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts in 1979.

September 2015

olds_big_fire

Elizabeth Olds, The Big Fire, 1940, Screenprint on cream heavyweight paper 

Elizabeth Olds (American, 1896-1991) was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she initially studied at the Minneapolis School of Art and the University of Minnesota, and later moved to New York where studied with the painter George Luks and at the Art Students League. In 1926 she was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship to study painting in Paris, the first woman to do so. Returning to the Midwest, she began working extensively with lithography, depicting the Omaha stockyards and the efforts of relief agencies as part of the Public Works of Art Project. She later became a member of the Graphic Arts Division of the Federal Art Project alongside other well-established artists, who emphasized the role printmaking in the production of fine artwork. Olds in particular championed the cause of screenprinting as an artistic medium.

August 2015

kent_godspeed

Rockwell Kent, Godspeed, 1931, Wood engraving on white wove paper 

Rockwell Kent (American, 1882-1971) was born in Tarrytown Heights, New York to a family of some wealth, allowing him to travel Europe and enroll in private schools in his youth before attending Columbia University to study architecture. Concurrently, he began studying at the William Merritt Chase Summer School of Art in Long Island; realizing his affinity for painting, he left Columbia to attend the New York School of Art, where he worked with painter Robert Henri. He was a passionate workers’ rights and political activist, to the extent that the United States government revoked his passport and was charged as a Communist by the House of Representatives during the McCarthy years. His work was very popular in the Soviet Union during the later part of his life; he eventually donated numerous prints and drawings to the people of the Soviet Union, for which he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1967.

July 2015

abelman

Ida Abelman, Demolition (Constuction), circa 1940, Lithograph on paper

Ida Abelman (American, 1910-2002) was born in New York, New York, where she studied at the Grand Central Art School, College of the City of New York, National Academy of Design, and Hunter College. Her work reflects much of the social and political tumult of World War II and the Great Depression, often depicting crowded cityscapes and urban infrastructure in an attempt to reflect the lives of the urban working class. She completed lithographs and murals for the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project and the American Artists Congress. Both of her murals were located in the American Midwest; one in Lewistown, Illinois, depicting one of Abraham Lincoln’s debates with Stephen Douglas, and the other in Boonville, Indiana, which paid tribute to the town’s founder, Daniel Boone’s cousin. Her later work was wide ranging, including ceramic, enamel, and painting.

June 2015

Davis_Theater_on_the_BeachStuart DavisTheatre on the Beach, 1931, Lithograph on paper 

Stuart Davis (American, 1894-1964) was born to an artistic family; his mother was a sculptor, and his father was the art editor of the Philadelphia Press, the paper which boasted member of Robert Henri’s circle as its in-house artists and illustrators. Davis left high school early in order to attend Henri’s self-titled art school in New York from 1909 to 1912. It was here that Davis gained exposure to and appreciation for the wave of modernism that was breaking over Europe. He began to experiment with various styles of abstraction, including Cubism, and was included in the Armory Show of 1913–its youngest artist. Much like the Ashcan artists, with whom he is loosely associated, he was inspired by the urban landscape. In his later years Davis was employed by the Works Progress Administration and taught at the Art Students League of New York, Yale University, and the New School for Social Research. Stuart Davis is widely regarded as one of America’s premier early abstraction modernists.

May 2015

hyde the bath

Helen Hyde, The Bath, 1905, Color woodcut on cream Japan paper

Helen Hyde (American, 1898-1919) spent her childhood in San Francisco, California, in a home that was not only wealthy but engaged in the local arts community. Her parents were members of the San Francisco Art Association and ensured that their three girls were educated in the fine arts of music and drawing. Hyde began her arts education at age twelve, eventually studying at the San Francisco School of Design and, in 1888-1889, at the Art Students League in New York under Kenyon Cox.  She traveled to Europe and continued her schooling in Germany and in Paris, where the Japonisme movement was sweeping the art world. Upon her return to San Francisco, Hyde began depicting the exotic Chinatown of her hometown, often choosing women and children as her subjects – a tendency that would continue throughout her career. In 1899 Hyde went to Japan for the first time; it was there she began developing her woodcut technique and learning traditional Japanese brushwork, or calligraphy.  She would spent great portions of her life working in Japan, learning Japanese approaches to printmaking and using Japanese subjects filtered through her Western lens. An illness later in life severely curtailed her productivity and caused her to practically cease creation in her last few years.

April 2015

Avery_Three_Birds

Milton Avery, Three Birds, 1952, Color woodcut on paper

Milton Avery (American, 1893-1965) was born in Sand Bank, New York. After moving to Connecticut as a child, he attended the Connecticut League of Art Students in Hartford while working in various trades such as manufacturing and insurance. In 1924 he moved to New York City. Inspired by Matisse, his work was most often representational and used bold, expressive color palettes.  Avery’s work became well-known in 1929, when the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. first acquired his work. Later exhibitions at the Phillips Collection and at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York brought Avery acclaim as a master colorist who influenced  Color Field painters and other abstractionist movements. He died in 1965 at the age of 79. 

March 2015

catlett

Elizabeth Catlett, Sharecroppers, 1970, Woodcut 

Elizabeth Catlett (American, 1915 – 2012) was born and raised in Washington, D.C., where she eventually studied design, drawing, and printmaking.  In 1940 she was the first to receive a Masters of Arts in sculpture from the University of Iowa.  She was granted a travel visa to Mexico in 1946, where she spent the majority of her life, gaining Mexican citizenship in 1962 after marrying fellow Francisco Mora in the 1940s. When she first arrived in Mexico City, Catlett quickly found comradeship with the politically-driven Mexican printmaking collective Taller de Grafica Popular.  Through her printmaking and her sculpture alike, Catlett is known for her then-radical content depicting the lives and struggle of black women and for her work as a black rights advocate. 

February 2015

Becker_The_cage

Fred Becker, Aerial Jungle IV, 1948, Color etching on paper

Frederick Becker (American, 1913-2004) was born and raised in Hollywood, where his father was a silent screen actor. Becker initially studied at the Otis Art Institute but moved to New York in 1933 to pursue architecture at New York University. His artistic endeavors were interrupted by the draft of World War II, and upon his return he began teaching  printmaking and drawing at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia in 1946. Two years later he founded a printmaking department at Washington University in St. Louis. He spent 20 years in St. Louis but transferred to the University of Massachusetts.  Throughout  his life he was involved with the styles of Atelier 17, Surrealism, Constructivism, Abstract Expressionism, the influences of which can be seen throughout the span of his life’s work.

January 2015

Gwathemy_Tobacco_Farmers web

Robert Gwathmey, Tobacco Farmers, 1947, Screenprint on paper

Robert Gwathmey (American, 1903-1988) had a youth characterized by poverty which enlightened him at an early age to social inequalities and later earned him a reputation as a “social realism” artist.  He enrolled in the Maryland Institute of Design at Baltimore at age 22 and later transferred to the renowned Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Although his travels in the Northeast United States and Europe influenced his subject matter, he frequently referenced his native South for inspiration, even earning a Rosenwald Foundation Fellowship to work for one year on a tobacco farm in North Carolina. Drawing upon his exposure to poverty and racism, his work emphasizes the plights of the working class and African Americans and critiques racial and economic injustices.

 December 2014

 Charles Turzak, North Bank Chicago River, 1930, Color woodcut on paper

Charles Turzak (American, 1899-1985) was a naturally talented artist from a young age; as a child he carved miniature animals and sold them to neighbors, and eventually became an apprentice for a violin maker. He enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1920, where he studied woodworking and drawing, and graduated in 1924. He earned local renown for his woodcut depictions of tourist attractions such as Water Tower Place and Merchandise Mart. During the Great Depression, he worked for the Works Progress Administration, creating a mural in a rural post office in Lemont, Illinois, and a series of woodcuts titled The Illinois Country, featuring  scenes from Illinois history.  After the Depression he found steady employment as an art director for Today’s Health Magazine.

 

 November 2014

 Helen Farr Sloan, Laundry No. 1, 1932, Lithograph on ivory wove paper

Helen Farr Sloan (American, 1911 – 2005) is perhaps best known for her philanthropy in the arts community.  She dabbled in a variety of media in her youth at the Craft Students League, including ceramics, weaving, and metalwork and later enrolled at the Art Students League of New York, where she met her husband, the esteemed Ashcan School artist John Sloan.  She began her career teaching in the arts program at the Nightingale-Bamford School, an all-girls preparatory academy.  After the death of her husband, she donated his vast body of work and library to a number of arts institutions such as the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian and spent the remainder of her life supporting the research of American art history.

October 2014

 Clinton Adams, Venus in Cibola, 1969, Color lithograph

Clinton Adams (American, 1918-2002) is considered to have been one of the master lithographers of the twentieth century. He studied under June Wayne, with whom he eventually founded the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles. The workshop moved to New Mexico in 1970, was renamed the Tamarind Institute, and became a division of the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque where Adams was a dean. He also published several books on the production and history of lithography.

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