It’s cool to see the original paintings for some of their now classic advertising posters. There’s also a lot of items from industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss’s work on the 20th Century Limited, “The Most Famous Train in the World.” Dreyfuss designed everything from the streamlined locomotives to the dinner plates.
Romancing the Rails is on display through February 2022.
Featured image: Observation Car design for the 20th Century Limited by Henry Dreyfuss, gouache on paper, 1938.
Fantastic historic prints and maps of New Jersey can be see in an online exhibition by the Morven Museum. Like the images above, a view of the Delaware Water Gap by an unknown artist, and an engraving of Bordentown Landing by Karl Bodmer, because of course he and Prince Maximillian stopped by to visit Joseph Bonaparte’s estate before heading west.
Another beneficiary was the Rutgers Geology Museum. In 1936, the Works Progress Administration funded 21 paintings for the museum by Alfred Poledo, a little-known 1930s artist. Like, there is almost nothing on the Internet about him. There’s this at the Living New Deal, which indicates he was from Boonton, and there’s some census data that shows he was an Italian immigrant, born around 1888 and deceased by 1940.
At least three of his paintings are in the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University. The mosasaur, an extinct marine reptile whose fossils are found in New Jersey, is featured in two of the pieces, A Lagoon in Jurassic Time and A New Jersey Mosasaur, both dated 1936.
The undated Prehistoric Animals Ready for Battle is the only one that shows dinosaurs. What I presume is a Dryptosaurus (a New Jersey dino related to Tyrannosaurus) faces off against a Triceratops, while some hadrosaurs (the official New Jersey state dinosaur) walk through the background.
These three paintings were donated to the Zimmerli by Helgi Johnson, a professor in the Geology Department who died in 1974. It’s not clear whether the other paintings in the series are also in the Zimmerli or perhaps still at the Geology Museum.
There’s a new New York Times article on “Ranger Doug” Leen (not to be confused with the other Ranger Doug), a dentist and former park ranger, who rediscovered, preserved, and now recreates 1930s-era National Park posters created by WPA artists.
In the 1930s, posters for 14 parks, including the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon were created by government artists. Fewer than 50 original posters are known to survive and there are no original copies for two parks, Great Smoky Mountains and Wind Cave. Ranger Doug now works with artist Brian Maebius to create new posters in the same style for other national parks.
In the 1920s, John Held, Jr., became famous for his drawings in Life, Vanity Fair, and other magazines that enshrined the iconic flapper image: lean and leggy, with beaded necklace swinging as she danced the Charleston with her companion, the round-headed, pencil-necked, Joe College.
The “tall, dark and tweedy” (Shuttleworth 1965) artist had come to New York City from Utah in 1912, where he found work as a commercial artist. As America entered World War I, John Held would take on another, clandestine, responsibility.
Jazz provoked reactions ranging from devotion to abhorrence when the idea, and then the sound, of the music first entered the consciousness of the British public in the aftermath of the First World War. Visiting American groups such as the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and the Southern Syncopated Orchestra offered Britons their first chance to experience the music live.
The growing interest in jazz brought black and white musicians, artists and audiences together, and was crucial in influencing changes in British society, moving from stereotypes descended from the minstrel show to a more nuanced understanding of and interest in African American and black British culture.
The exhibition brings together painting, prints, cartoons, textiles and ceramics, moving film, instruments and the all-important jazz sound, to explicitly examine the influence of jazz on British art, design and wider society.