Chromolithograph, Daily Dose of Jazz, Early 20th Century, Lithograph, Prints

Daily Dose of Jazz: Mervin Jules

There are just 4 days left to attend the 2012 DC Jazz Festival. We urge our readers to take advantage of the great concerts and events going on in Washington DC and become inspired by the sounds of jazz. For today’s Daily Dose of Jazz, we are featuring a print by a Maryland-born, 20th century artist, Mervin Jules.

Mervin Jules was born in Baltimore  in 1912. He received artistic training at Baltimore City College and the Maryland Institute College of Art, graduating in 1934.  Duncan Phillips, prominent modern art collector of the time period and founder of the Phillips Collection in Washington, displayed a small painting at the museum by Jules in 1935. Jules had his first solo show at the Hudson D. Walker Gallery in New York in 1937 and thereafter exhibited frequently, both in the United States and abroad. He later studied in New York at the Art Students League (1937) under painter and printmaker Thomas Hart Benton (whose work we also exhibit at OPG).

A realist whose work often dealt with social themes, Jules was especially prolific as a printmaker. Like other social realist artists, his subjects were often depictions of the plight of the poor and disadvantaged. Jules’ works also encompassed satires against fascism and social ills, which garnered some criticism from art writers, collectors, and gallery owners.  Nevertheless, Jules remained popular and his work remained prized, thanks to his great technical skill and use of light and shadow. Of his technical approach and subject matter, Jules said, “The thing to be expressed determines the elements which comprise form. Space, color, line, and sense of volume are not mere plastic playthings, but are used to communicate my interest and excitement about people and what they do… Emphasis and selection highlight the subject and bring to the artist’s audience a new and more vital understanding of contemporary life.”

From 1945 to 1970, Jules taught at Smith College, where he became head of the art department. From 1970 until he retired in 1980, he headed the art department at City College. His work is in many public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Jazz Band. By Mervin Jules. Published by Associated American Artists. Color lithograph, 1954. Edition 250. Signed in pencil, inscribed “250/160.”

Prints by Mervin Jules are available for viewing at our partner gallery, The Old Print Shop in New York City. Prints can also be viewed at our Washington gallery by special request. To see our selection of prints by Mervin Jules, click here. For more information about the DC Jazz Festival, click here. And for past prints featured in our Daily Dose of Jazz, click here.



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