Golden age for the art of the States

By Julia Weiner, July 4, 2008
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An exhibition of prints shows the strength in depth of America’s 20th-century artistic talent

The American scene

British Museum, London WC1

This exhibition of prints reveals the talents of a number of less well-known Jewish American artists who were involved in a number of art movements, ranging from modernism to social realism. One of the most memorable images on show is Louis Lozowick’s lithograph, New York. 

Lozowick (1892-1973) was born into an impoverished family of Orthodox Jews in the Ukraine and studied at Kiev School of Art before arriving in America in 1906. His paintings and prints celebrate the modernity of American cities. In New York, he captures Manhattan with its skyscrapers and the sweeping Brooklyn Bridge, stressing the geometric patterns of the architecture.  

In contrast, Leonard Baskin shows the dangers of modernity in his terrifying visions of humanity produced after the Second World War. The son of a rabbi, Baskin studied at a yeshivah before taking up art. His monumental 1952 woodcut Man of Peace shows a half-naked, starving man standing behind barbed wire holding up a bird. So often symbols of peace, the dove here is dead and his solemn face evokes despair at the time of the Korean War. 

The American Scene is at the British Museum until September 7.  www.britishmuseum.org

    Last updated: 3:36pm, March 2 2009