In addition to being a prolific writer, musician and songwriter Woody Guthrie was a talented visual artist. He began working as a sign painter in Pampa, Texas, and later became a cartoonist for newspapers in Los Angeles and New York. He used a variety of mediums, including oil, charcoal, pastels, pen and ink, watercolor, clay, ceramics, and even his children’s crayons, to produce everything from traditional landscapes and portraits to experimental multimedia pieces. Guthrie portrayed his surroundings and the people who impressed him, whether well-known historical figures or neighborhood faces. Like his music, his artwork provides a glimpse into his daily life, as well as his thoughts and feelings about his community. The following is inscribed on the back of this artwork, In El Rancho Grande (1936); “this adobe art painted of clay, open air and sky. Imagined in front of the Santa Fe Art Museum when an old lady told me “the world is made of Adobe“ and I added “so is man.“
Photographed in the Morgan Library in New York City as par of the Exhibit, People Are The Song.
In this painting, Terminus, Device of Erasmus (1532) Hans Holbein the Younger combined Erasmus‘s portrait with his emblem, providing Terminus with Erasmus’s facial features. Seen through a stone opening, Erasmus/Terminus gazes across a featureless landscape. The golden disk behind his head represents divine radiance, underscoring the Christian meaning of the emblem for Erasmus: steadfast character and unwavering faith. This rare painting of a persona emblem by Holbein was probably intended to delight an admirer rather than to gratify Erasmus himself. Concedo nvlli means “I yield no ground.”
Photographed in the Morgan Library and Museum in NYC.
Arlo Guthrie has kept the music and legacy of his father, Woody Guthrie, alive for decades. His 1969 album, Running Down the Road, includes his fathers song “Oklahoma Hills” alongside original songs such as “Coming Into Los Angeles.”
In 1941, while convalescing from a serious illness, Henri Matisse devised a fresh approach to his interest in repeated motifs: a drawing series that he would published in 1943 as Themes and Variations. Comprising 162 drawings organized into 17 groups, the series mostly depicts female figures reclining or relaxing in chairs. This example, Woman Resting in an Interior (1941) is characterized by the contrast of charcoal and paper and of flatness and depth, as well as by its fluid, energetic line. Other studies in Themes and Variations use a much cleaner line to render the subject. As a whole, the series demonstrates the artist’s commitment to capturing a drawing’s essence through serial reworking.
In the 1990s, Roy Liechtenstein created a body of work called Interiors, in which he mixed references to classical antiquity, the renaissance, and modernism. He also used visual signs plucked from his own illustrious career, such as his characteristic Ben-Day dots . Created in the last year of Lichtenstein‘s life, this drawing is a study for a painting, Interior with Ajax (1997), commissioned by the fashion designer Gianni Versace. In it, a confused looking Ajax, a hero of Greek mythology, finds himself in an an eclectically decorated room in which styles float free of their contexts and hatch marks are divorced from their descriptive function.