Imperialism - JOLAN GROSS-BETTELHEIM
Lithograph, circa 1945, edition unknown. 11 3/8 x 9 7/8 in. Signed in pencil. This is a superb, rich impression of this extremely rare and important print. The margins are most likely full and the condition is excellent. Gross-Bettelheim was living in New York from 1938 until about 1956. This potent image was done during this period along with a few other works such as Assembly Line and the Fascism series. Previously, she had been living in Cleveland and produced several prints for their WPA program from 1935-1943. "Imperialism" represents a culmination of Bettelheim's modernist explorations and stands as one of American printmaking's most powerful anti-war statements. The formal perspective of the composition–an assembly line of war weapons and regimented figures–pulls the viewer into the image . The skull-like gas masks look out to the viewer, hollow-eyed in warning. The repetition of the shapes and abstraction of the figures emphasize the inhumanity of the war machine and makes poignant the paradox of man's vunerability in the face of his own creation. Although this lithograph was created during WWII, the image feels absolutely contemporary, as relevant today as it was when first produced. (Source for the last five sentences: Keith Sheridan). Impressions of this work are found in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
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