This narrative and colorful painting by the Russian-American illustrator Bernard Gussow appeared as the cover for the March, 1925 issue of Theatre Magazine – The Magazine For Playgoers. The image shows two rosy cheeked children in Eastern European peasant garb putting on a show for an audience of curious farm animals. The richly folkloric and naive illustration is an unusual departure from most Theatre covers of the period, which typically showcased stylish art deco sophisticates. With a modernist sensibility, Gussow uses traditional Russian folk art patterns and style to create a surreal and whimsical scene. The painting is handsomely framed under glass and a complete high grade edition of the published magazine is included in the sale.
A Biography of Bernard Gussow – Courtesy of Askart :
Painter and lithographer Bernard Gussow was born in Russia in 1881, and died in New York City in 1957. From 1912, he was a teacher at the Newark, New Jersey School of Fine and Industrial Art, and he was active in the New York modernist artist scene, exhibiting at the landmark Armory Show of 1913 and with the Society of Independent Artists. He also showed his work during the 1930s and 1940s. The artist was trained at both the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design; in addition he studied under Bonnat at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His first claim to fame seems to have been exhibiting two works at the Armory Show in 1913 (Movement and Figures). Gussow exhibited at the Society of Independent Artists between 1917 and 1934 and at Salons of America in the 1930s. The Whitney Museum of American Art, has his painting Subway Stairs on display in their permanent collection. New York’s Museum of Modern Art also have his paintings in their collections. Gussow also participated in the Federal Art Project, contributing a post office mural (Recreation Hours) in East Rochester, NY. The figures in this painting might owe something to his contemporary Max Weber, who used similar simplified, mask-like faces. Or he may have gone directly to the Blue Rider Group or German Expressionists such as Franz Marc or Erich Heckel who were interested in “primitive” figures in landscapes.