29 January 2017

Chess and Social Realism

Getting back to The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), that initial post announced,

For the next few posts in the series, I'll present other images as I take the time to explore the subject.

Then, as so often happens, I got sidetracked with other topics like the previous post Chess as an Institution. Let's have another image, this one by an artist who often used gatherings of chess players to explore 'social realism'.

Louis Wolchonok, 'Chess Players'

Google tells us,

Louis Wolchonok, Artist
Born: 1898, New York City
Died: 1973, New York City
Education: Académie Julian
Books: Design for Artists and Craftsmen, more

The eBay auction for the painting said,

"CHESS PLAYERS", circa 1950-60, BY LOUIS WOLCHONOK (1898-1973); watercolor on paper, 15 1/2" x 12 1/2" and 21 1/2" x 18 3/4" in its museum mat - unframed. Signed, lower right.

A fabulous partially abstract piece by one of the more interesting painters of the 20th cent., Louis Wolchonok. He is one of the few artists who was as vibrant and as contemporary in the 1950s and 60s as he was as a WPA Social Realist.

Wolchonok was born in New York and studied at the Cooper Union, the National Academy, City College, the Academie Julian in Paris, and the Brooklyn Museum School. He was a member of the Society of American Etchers and the New York Sketch Club and exhibited at the Whitney; the National Academy; the PA Academy; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Los Angeles Museum; and the Tate. Wolchonok taught for years at the New York YMCA and is included in nearly all important 20th century collections.

A few months ago, in 'Just Like You and Me' (October 2016), I featured Albert Pels, another WPA artist (Works Progress Administration; see that post for more). Is the interest of the two artists in chess a coincidence?

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