William Schwartz: A Visual Exploration!

William Schwartz: A Visual Exploration!

Schwartz, William, Come to Me All Ye Heavy Ladden, 1934, oil on canvas, H. 40 x W. 50 inches, James A. Michener Art Museum. Gift of the John P. Horton Estate.

Look closely at this painting by William Schwartz.

What is the first thing that you notice?  The colors? The figures? Or perhaps the mood?  Why do you think it was the first thing that you focused on?

What do you think is happening here?  Would you want to be a part of this gathering?  Why? Why not?

This painting is called “Come All Ye Heavy Ladden” and Schwartz painted it in 1934, during the Great Depression.  Does this information change your initial reactions to this painting?  How so?

William Schwartz was born in Russia in 1896 and at the age of seventeen he moved to the U.S. with his family.  He began studying art at a young age, but also had a particular interest in music as well.  In 1917, he successfully graduated from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, but chose to support himself as a tenor singer in vaudeville, concerts and opera, with favorable reviews.  He later returned his attention to painting.

Schwartz established his own style of modernism and was highly influenced by American painter Arthur Davies.  Take a look at this painting by Davies.  Can you see his influence on Schwartz’s style?

Davies, Arthur, Mountain of Inheritance, ca. 1911-12oil on canvasH. 18 x W. 40.25 inchesJames A. Michener Art Museum. Gift of John Horton.

Davies, Arthur, Mountain of Inheritance, ca. 1911-12 oil on canvas H. 18 x W. 40.25 inches James A. Michener Art Museum. Gift of John Horton.

With his use of bold design and flat color, Schwartz’s works often challenged the observer.  One critic once commented, “Schwartz is also a singer of note, and with this in mind one can more fully appreciate the weird harmonies and swaying movement of his creations in the realm of visual art.”  What  do you think?

Both of these paintings, by Schwartz and Davies, respectively, are up for vote, along with 123 other works in our “The People’s Choice: Celebrating Michener’s Top 25” exhibit.  Make sure to cast your votes today!  And, as always, please share your thoughts with us.

-Sumreen Z Chaudhry, New Media and Interpretation Assistant

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