18 June 2010

artists - Art Young

You can say that this is Dante revisited.
The Quack Doctors -- "The sewers of Hell are flushed with patent medicines. Wallowing in this stream of mysterious decoction are the souls of the quack doctors, gulping their own poison. To add to the punishment, unceasing showers of large pills descend, the doctors frantically beating the air in their endeavors to ward off the bitter storm."

Art Young was a firebrand illustrator during the first part of the 20th century. And early in his career he revisited Hell, that famous Inferno once visited by Dante Alighieri, and immortalized in images by Gustave Dore.
Young’s interest in the nether world started early. As an adolescent art prodigy in small-town Wisconsin, he got ahold of and devoured the edition of Dante’s Inferno illustrated by Dore. It was, he later recalled,“ the first book to give me a real thrill.” That initial impression was lasting: Young went on to study art in Chicago, New York, and Paris, and became something of an expert on the history of illustration, but his enthusiasm for Dore never wavered. “[I] counted him the greatest artist of his time,” he said. “I estimated the gift of imagination in all of the arts as supreme. And Dore had it.” [Art Young, Art Young: His Life and Times, John Nicholas Beffel, ed., New York: Sheridan House, 1939, pp. 52, 133.]
     I really have to thank Noah Berlatsky ["the Hooded Utilitarian"] for an excellent researched essay on Art Young, his art, his values, and the trials and travails he went through for maintaining them. Young was Socialist in political orientation, was amongst the people that hung about the Ash Can School of artists, a group known for painting and depicting gritty scenes of urban life, the poor and the working class. Considered Revolutionary more for their subject matter, than, their presentation styles, their work was influential in American Arts movements in the 1930s.
     Young was also a contributor to the radical publication The Masses. The magazine lasted about seven years, but was plagued with financial woes, thanks to Robber Baron Era Capitalists who bankrupted the publication with a long protracted harassment using the Courts to censor the publication's anti-big business point of view.
     I write all this thanks to having unearthed a partial edition [there are pages that were removed, probably cut apart by some entrepreneur who likely saw profit in framing individual works of art [like the ones above and to the left side] and selling them piece by piece. I got the remains. A good bargain regardless.

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