Over the course of a career that stretched from the 1920s to the 1980s, Alice Neel painted portraits of hundreds of friends, family members, lovers, artists art historians, writers, and political activists, believing that “people are the greatest and profoundest key to an era.” Seeking to express psychology above absolute physical likeness, she often used exaggerated colors and expressive brushstrokes and eliminated extraneous details in order to capture the inner lives of her subjects.
Neel was a longtime supporter of leftist causes. In the painting of Pat Whalen (1935), she depicts the Communist activist and union organizer for the longshoremen of Baltimore as a paragon of social justice. Whalen’s creased face and expression — along with a copy of the Daily Worker, the official newspaper of the Communist Party USA, resting beneath his large, clenched — suggest both a noble archetype of the blue-collar worker and an all-consuming commitment to the working man’s cause.
The shift in our perception of objects when they are displayed as part of a museum collection can sometimes elevate a practical piece into an art object. On deli counters in the 1940s, this commercial meat slicer designed by Egmont Arens (circa 1935) would have evoked cleanliness, efficiency and modernity. In an exhibition, it becomes an abstract pieceof streamlined design.
Designed by John Vassos for RCA (Radio Corporation of America) circa 1935 the Model K was relatively lightweight, being made out of aluminum, and the suitcase-style design featured its own speaker, a classy and reflective protective plate, and pockets inside the lid to carry records.
Note the little design touches such as the tabs for the record slots, and the rounded cutouts (behind the metal plate) so you could easily get to the records themselves. The semi-domed, built-in speaker at the front of the case is a nice design touch.
Today, aluminum is taken for granted as a lightweight, inexpensive material that has many applications However, is was only in 1886 that an American, Charles Martin Halm discovered the process that made commercial production possible. Over the next forty years, aluminum evolved from a laboratory curiosity to an industrial staple
In his early twenties, Christo (Born Christo Javacheff in 1935) escaped the oppressive Communist regime in his native country of Bulgaria and wandered in exile throughout Europe, supporting himself primarily by painting commissioned portraits.
He has related his early wrapped-package works to the isolation and sadness of his coming of age in Bulgaria; the wheelbarrow, in particular, suggests a stateless, nomadic life. The package’s contents are suggested in the forms bulging beneath their cloth wrapping, but never revealed, for opening it would destroy the work.
In 1964, shortly after making Package on Wheelbarrow (1963), Christo relocated to New York. Since then, in partnership with his wife Jeanne-Claude (1935 – 2009) he has created many large-scale, temporary installations, wrapping buildings, bridges, trees and islands in fabric.
Artist May Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitzky, August 27, 1890 – November 18, 1976) was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. He produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all. He was best known for his photography, and he was a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. Ray is also noted for his work with photograms, which he called Rayographs, in reference to himself.
In 1935, Man Ray photographed his studio reflected in a silvery orb, and called it Laboratory of the Future. This striking photograph (a Gelatin Silver print) is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
Herb Alpert, co-founder of A&M Records and trumpet player extraordinaire, was born on this day, March 31st in 1935. Let us celebrate Herb’s Birthday by enjoying this 1966 video of Herb and the Tijuana Brass performing “A Taste Of Honey” on the beach! It starts rocking at the 19 second point, so hang in there. Happy Birthday, Herb!
The late, great Elvis Presley was born on this day, January 8th, in 1935. Coincidentally, on this day in 1993 (16 years after his death), the U.S. Postal Service issued the Elvis Presley stamp. Rock On, Elvis.