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Entries in Magic Realism (3)

Friday
Jul132018

Paul Cadmus: Pushing the Envelope

Paul Cadmus - Gilding the Acrobats - 1935 - Oil and tempera on masonite - 36 3/4 × 18 3/8 in. - Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York, NYMagic Realism is an American style of art with Surrealist overtones. The art is anchored in everyday reality, but contains elements of fantasy and wonder. The term was later also applied to the literary works of authors such as Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez.

One of the artists associated with this movement was Paul Cadmus (1904-1999). A native New Yorker, Cadmus began his art studies at age 15, at New York City’s National Academy of Design and then later at the Art Students League. He landed work at an advertising agency, and later traveled with his partner, artist Jared French, to Majorca, in Spain where he created two of his better known paintings, Shore Leave and YMCA Locker Room (both 1933). Upon returning, Cadmus painted for the Public Works of Art project. It was during this time that he created The Fleet’s In! (1934). This was one of a number of works by the artist that were controversial. A work of social satire, it depicts sailors on shore leave and contains elements of prostitution, homoeroticism, and drunkenness. The work infuriated navy officials, and was pulled from an exhibition in Washington, D.C., in 1934. It was not displayed publicly again until 1981.  

The work featured here, Gilding the Acrobats, “reenacts literally the experience of painting the figure with thinly veiled homoeroticism. In an era when homosexual behavior was criminalized and homoerotic imagery was intensely policed, gay artists like Cadmus turned frequently to circus performers and athletes as the few socially permissible subjects that offered the opportunity to lavish attention on the male body.”

Monday
Jul032017

Magic Realism: Philip Evergood

Philip Evergood - Don’t Cry Mother - 1938-44 - Oil on canvas - 26 x 18 in. - Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York (click photo for larger image) Magic Realism is an American style of art with Surrealist undercurrents. The art is anchored in everyday reality, but has overtones of fantasy or wonder. The term was later also applied to the literary works of authors such as Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez.

One of the style’s practitioners was American painter, etcher, lithographer, sculptor, illustrator and writer, Philip Evergood (1901-1973). Born Philip Blashki, he became (with the name Philip Evergood) one of the leading modernists of the 20th Century, with styles combining abstraction and realism, and with subjects (during the 1930s) that made him one of the leading social realists of his time.

Although born in New York City, Evergood was raised in London, where he moved in 1909 with his parents until 1923. He studied at Eton and Cambridge University and then at the Slade School. Returning to New York, he was a student of Ashcan School painter George Luks (1866-1933) at the Art Students League.

From 1924 to 1926, he traveled in Europe and studied in Paris at the Academie Julian. He lived abroad again from 1929 to 1931. During the 1920s and 1930s, Evergood explored themes with a distorted style reflective of both Cezanne and El Greco. His figures seemed to exist in fanciful worlds or “imagined space”. (Baigell) By 1935, he had completed politically and socially charged American Scene paintings, focused on the unhappiness of people caught in the Depression.

During the 1930s, Evergood was a muralist for the WPA. in the Federal Art Project, and his mural works include The Story of Richmond Hill for the library in that part of New York City, and Cotton from Field to Mill for the Post Office in Jackson, Georgia. Remaining politically active, Evergood served as President of the New York Artists Union.

Evergood taught both art and music at various institutions in the 1940s. During this time, he distanced himself from political and social issues to create figures that were more fanciful and free.

In 1952, he moved to Connecticut until his death. Sadly, Evergood was killed in a house fire in Bridgewater, Connecticut, in 1973, at the age of 72.

Friday
Jan102014

Paul Cadmus - Magic Realism

Paul Cadmus - Coney Island - 1934 - Oil on canvas - Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (click photo for larger image)Magic Realism is an American style of art with decidedly Surrealist overtones. While the art is seemingly anchored in everyday reality, but includes implications of fantasy and wonder. The term “Magic Realism” was later also applied to the literary works of such authors as Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez. One of the Magic Realists of the visual arts was American artists Paul Cadmus (1904-1999). There are tinges of both eroticism and social critique in Cadmus’s art, which have led to his sometimes being labeled a “Social Realist.” Although the work featured here was completed in oils, Cadmus was also one of the few artists of his day who worked in egg tempera.