American Views, Contemporary, Drypoint, Early 20th Century, Lithograph, Past/Present, Prints

Past/Present: Rain

Today we have a new P/P post, featuring two rainy day prints by Martin Lewis and Richard Florsheim. Martin Lewis was born on June 7, 1881 in Castlemaine, Australia. He was the second of eight children and he had a passion for drawing. At the age of fifteen he left home and traveled in New South Wales and New Zealand, working as a post hole digger and a merchant seaman before settling into a Bohemian community outside of Sidney. Two of his drawings were published in a radical Sydney newspaper, the Bulletin. He also studied with Julian Ashton at the Art Society’s School in Sydney. Ashton, a famous painter, was also one the first Australian artists to take up printmaking.

In 1900, Lewis left for the United States. His first known job after arriving in the United States was painting stage decorations for the McKinley Presidential Campaign of 1900. Little is known of his early years in this country; however, by 1909 he was living and working in New York City. With the exception of a few years, he spent the rest of his life in and around the city. His earliest etching dates from 1915 but shows a technical ability that suggests that he had been working in the medium for some time. During these early years, Lewis experimented with different intaglio processes including etching, aquatint, engraving, mezzotint, and drypoint.

In 1920, Lewis left for Japan, a turning point in his artistic career. He studied the art and culture of Japan. During his eighteen-month stay, he spent his time painting in both oil and watercolor. He did not work in printmaking again until 1925, when he produced a group of etchings and drypoints depicting Japan. These new prints led him several years later to produce many memorable images of New York City. The period of 1925 through 1935 was his most productive, during which he produced eighty-one of his one hundred and forty-eight known prints.

Richard Florsheim was active as a painter, sculptor and graphics artist in Chicago, Milwaukee, Provincetown, and Woodstock, New York. Florsheim was born in Chicago in 1916, to a very wealthy family. He spent his youth and early adulthood studying at the University of Chicago and in New York with artist Aaron Bohrod. His father paid for a lengthy European independent study, where Florsheim exhibited at Salon des Refusés, and the Musée du Jeu de Paume honored him by purchasing one of his paintings, Don Quixote.

Florsheim returned to Chicago in 1939, and began lithography in 1940, exhibiting at the Quest Gallery and working out of a studio on North Avenue. He then enlisted in the US Navy, active in the Pacific Theater as a cartographer. It was at this time that he also obtained patents for his radar plane-spotting technique.

After the war, he resumed his artistic career, exhibiting widely. He helped found the Artists’ League of the Midwest with Artists’ Equity Association of New York. He was assistant director of the Arts Center Association, 1951-52, and taught at the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee from 1949 to 1950, and the Contemporary Art Workshop in Chicago from 1952 to 1963. From 1965 to 1973, he was a board member of the Illinois Arts Council.  Florsheim was a member of the National Academy of Design, the Society of American Graphic Artists, the Provincetown Art Association, which he served as Trustee and Vice President from 1962 to 1971, and the Chicago Society of Artists.

Image on Right: Rain on Murray Hill.  By Martin Lewis. Drypoint, 1928. Recorded impressions 100.

Image on Left: City Rain. By Richard Florsheim. Published by The Associated American Artists. Lithograph, 1976. Edition of 250.




One thought on “Past/Present: Rain

  1. Robert Freestone says:

    I have the complete set of 1978 Rexnord commissioned stone lithographs still in their original packaging with the accompanying brochures if anyone is interested in them. They were presented to me around 1982 as a gift by the president of Fairfield Mfg Co, at that time a subsidiary of Rexnord, Inc. Mr. Florsheim passed in 1979, leaving these prints as quite possibly one of his last endeavors.

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