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1979: Albert's (in Omaha) is lit!

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Dust is Whirling in the Dust

Arthur Kraft - Soldier with Death before a Carousel

Arthur Kraft — Private First Class Arthur Kraft, at the time — painted this during World War II. It was part of an exhibition called "Soldier Art," from which came one of those oblong GI paperbacks of the same title. In fifth or sixth grade, I saw the small, black and white photo of the picture and was struck by the technique and the infinitely sad subject matter. I looked online and couldn't find a color copy of it. I know now that it is probably because the picture is now known as "Soldier with Death before Carousel" instead of the Oscar Wilde quote that was with it in the book.

Kraft, who died in 1977 at age 55, lived in Kansas City, Missouri, and according to a website dedicated to his life and work, Kansas City has many examples of his work to be found, including several murals. This painting hangs in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, which I'd like to visit some day.

I pride myself on having gotten the best scan I could from the halftone picture in the book, but this color version (which I've adjusted slightly to correct for a yellow cast) has shown me much more detail. Interestingly, my mental image has been off all along — the color choices I'd imagined, such as a rich purple robe on Death (and I didn't know that was Death!), turn out to have been mistaken. Soon, I probably won't even remember what they were.

Also, the canopy of the carousel is interesting to me for personal reasons: I drew a graphite scene with an awning that was similarly striped, and viewed closely, it's a lot like the one in this picture. Was that unconscious inspiration? Or just the best way to draw a striped awning? No idea. At the risk of comparison, here's my drawing (graphite on copy paper):

Window Shopper

Well, they're not that much alike after all. I've been flattering myself. Anyway, I'm putting it there for my audience to enjoy. Last one out turns off the lights.

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