Jack Levine (1915-2010) was known best for his satirical figural compositions that express sharp social commentary. Born in Boston, and of Lithuanian descent, Levine grew up in Boston’s South End, an area crowded with European immigrants. The realities of street-life—drunks, prostitutes, politicians, and policemen—left a vivid impression on Levine. They became central to his art, which often satirizes the quirks and corruption of various segments of society.
Levine first trained at the Jewish Welfare Center in Roxbury, MA. He later attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Harvard University. Between 1935-40, he was sometimes part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project.
Levine is typically defined as an American Social Realist. Social Realists created images of the "masses" a term that “encompassed the lower and working classes, labor unionists, and the politically disenfranchised”. American artists became dissatisfied with the French avant-garde and their own isolation from greater society, which inspired them to search for a new vocabulary and a new social importance. Influenced by American Scene Painting and the Ashcan School—these artists believed their content is what made them “modern”.
German Expressionist artist Gabriele Münter (1877-1962) was one of the founders in 1909 of the avant-garde artists’ group Neue Künstlervereinigung (“New Artists’ Association”) formed by Munich artists challenging the official art of the day. The artists in the group were united in their purpose, not in their style. In 1911 Münter joined Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) in leaving the group to form the rival association, Der Blaue Reiter (“The Blue Rider”), the second phase of German Expressionism, which reached its peak in Berlin, during the 1920s.
A student of Kandinsky, Münter fell in love with the painter and lived with him for more than a decade, during the period leading up to WWI. Münter exhibited paintings at the Blaue Reiter exhibitions of 1911 and 1912. While sharing the group’s characteristic intensity of color and expressiveness of line, her still life paintings, figures, and landscapes remained uniquely representational rather than abstract. The painting featured here is one of her more notable works.
As we enter the Fall season—a painting of an autumn scene is in order! Hudson River School painter and printmaker Thomas Moran (1837-1926) is most well known for his idealized views of the American West. This son of poor immigrant hand-weavers was entirely self-taught. He got some training as an engraver and opened an engraving business with his two brothers. “But his heart was in painting, and his predilections intensely, youthfully Romantic.” Influenced by J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), Moran received international attention and acclaim for his portrayals of the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.
The Hudson River School encompasses two generations of painters, inspired by Thomas Cole’s images of America's wilderness - in the Hudson River Valley, and also in the newly opened West. The particular use of light effects, to lend an exaggerated drama to such elements as mist and sunsets, developed into a subspecialty known as Luminism.