Saturday’s Wall Street Journal A-hed.
Trout-Loving Artists Lament The Job That Got Away
Where else will you read about Wisconsin’s exorcising the trout from its “trout stamp,” traditionally affixed to the state’s fishing licenses?
The Weekend Journal’s apropos-of-nothing essay on Charles Demuth’s “The Figure 5 in Gold.”
Where Paint and Poetry Meet
Even children are drawn, viscerally, to “The Figure 5 in Gold,” one of the most recognizable works in American Modernism. Painted in 1928, its vibrant red, black and gold fire-engine motif barrels at the viewer, delivering a “Pow!” that Pop artists strived to achieve a few decades later. Somehow, the bold image manages to transmit not only the speed but also the screams of a fire truck weaving its way through a crowded New York street.
On its own, this visual impact might have made Charles Demuth’s most famous work into an icon of American art. But “The Figure 5 in Gold” has much more going for it. It’s the best work in a genre Demuth created, the “poster portrait.” It’s a witty homage to his close friend, the poet William Carlos Williams, and a transliteration into paint of his poem, “The Great Figure.” It’s a decidedly American work made at a time when U.S. artists were just moving beyond European influences. It’s a reference to the intertwined relationships among the arts in the 1920s, a moment of cross-pollination that led to American Modernism. And it anticipates Pop art.
The piece, by Judith H. Dobrzynski of Real Clear Arts, lovingly deconstructs the painting in a most accessible and illuminating manner.
There’s no exhibit tied to this essay, no anniversary, no nothing.
Just nowhere-else journalism.