This linoleum cut print, Speed Trial (1932), was inspired by Bluebird, a race car that reached a velocity of 246 miles per hour at Daytona Beach, Florida in 1932, breaking the land-speed record. Artist Cyril Edward Power (1872 – 1951) used rhythmic, repetitive curves to conjure the rushing motion of the aerodynamic vehicle. He printed the image using three layers of color: light blue, dark blue, and green. He stipulated that the dark blue should be printed “dark on bonnet, paling to tail” — a graded passage that emphasizes the engine, at the front of the car, as the source of its power.
This curious personage, with four small spindly legs supporting a visage of stunned eyes and a quizzical smirk, or handlebar moustache, offers a satiric take on the work’s grim title. Inspired by a Zuni war god sculpture that Klee saw at an ethnological museum, Mask of Fear(1932) was painted on the eve of Hitler’s assumption of power in Germany.
The two sets of legs suggest that two figures might be supporting, and concealed by, this monumental carnival-style mask, an arrangement that might understood in light of Klee’s assertion that “the mask represents art, and behind it hides man.”
Peter Blume’s Light of the World (1932) delivers an allegorical critique of modernity and the unquestioning embrace of progress. The four figures are transfixed by the bright light of a fantastical lamp whose brilliance contrasts with the darkening sky overtaking a cathedral based on Notre Dame in Paris – a juxtaposition implying that the faith once reflected in Gothic architecture’s soaring spires had been transferred to modern technologies. Blume identified the mustachioed figure as a ventriloquist’s dummy – his personal symbol for the voiceless and impotent American worker – another hint of the societal pressures that keep us in thrall to technological progress, often against our best interests.
Photographed in the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC.
Legendary Country singer/songwriter Johnny Cash was born on this day, February 26th, in 1932. Cash passed away of respiratory failure on September 12th, 2003, at the age of 71, just four months after the death of his wife June Carter Cash.