Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Paul Raphael Meltsner, Paul, Marcella and Van Gogh

Paul Raphael Meltsner
American, 1905-1966

Paul, Marcella and Van Gogh ca. 1937
Oil on canvas

This self-portrait by New Yorker Paul Meltsner features not only likenesses of his stately model, Marcella, and charming wirehaired terrier, Van Gogh, but also a view of one of the artist's industrial scenes, which brought him considerable fame in the 1930's. Holding a hammer instead of a typical brush and palette, Meltsner expresses identification with workers like the one included in the painting behind him. The composition's smooth and volumetric forms, which appear like products of an assembly line, tie Meltsner more subtly to proletarianism, a celebration of workers' culture that attracted many American artists throughout the period. Meltsner's style translated easily and successfully into the widely accessible medium of printmaking, a pursuit that further strengthened his affiliation with 1930s proletarianism.

Original work can be seen at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.
Photo taken by me, references taken from the museum.

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