Art – depression era

I realize that I am all over the place in my discussions.  The Arts and Humanities are broad subjects.  I go where the spirit moves me. Won’t you join me?

Today, I read that the National Gallery of Art has obtained a collection of depression era prints from Dave and Reba Williams.  Included in the collection are works by Jolan Gross Bettelheim and Louis Lozowick.  They capture an essence of the time in which they lived.  One female, one male – both were immigrants to the U.S. from Eastern Bloc countries.

Bettelheim’s work created in the late 1930’s can be compared to images you might see in an “Alien” film; very dark, some simultaneously bulbous and sharp, with tentacle like features;   Less industrial, more oppressively militaristic, very rich imagery that comes from the darker mental recesses.

Many of Louis Lozowick’s works are gritty with industrial machine soot, yet, his lines are clean and orderly.  In “Winter Fun”, Central Park, 1941 lithograph, is wonderful contrast of light and dark – technically and subjectively.  Children sledding in the foreground on newly fallen white snow against a backdrop of a gritty New York skyline, settled in a bleak grey sky.   I see hope in this one, which is interesting, considering that around the time he made this work, December, 1941, the U.S. was pulled into the war and Moscow was being surrounded by German forces. Lozowick emigrated from Kiev to the U.S.  around 1907.

His “Coney Island”, 1935 casein on paper, renders a darkly frightening composite of carnival machinery.  It doesn’t make me happy – more like being in the presence of a scary clown.   

We live in different times, although world economic woes, wars, fear, poverty, inhumane acts of aggression against humanity are not happy places either.  I am interested in the art that will come of this.

How’s this for dark and gritty?

copyright 2008 d pomeroy

copyright 2008 d pomeroy

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