Fireworks. Richard Florsheim. Published by Associated American Artists. Printed by George Miller and Son. Lithograph, 1961. Edition 250. Image size 14 x 9 7/8″ (355 x 252 mm). LINK.
In preparation for our upcoming landscape show, Resonant Terrain, we have added several lithographs by Richard Florsheim, one of the artists selected for the exhibit, to our 20th century print inventory. With titles like “City Lights”, “Illuminations”, and “Light and Water”, it is apparent the Florsheim was engrossed with and inspired by his surroundings, allowing both the sea and the city to have equal reign over his creative focus. Using large, gestural sweeps of the lithographic pencil over stone and dynamic swathes of color, Florsheim was able to capture the vibrancy of his hometowns of Chicago and Provincetown.
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. 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.
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.
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.