August 6, 2014

Gropper and Benton Lithographs

We recently had the honor of having two Original Hand Signed Lithographs by Gropper and Benton, come into our shop for re-framing.

What a pleasure it was to take these fabulous artworks out of their original framing which utilized potentially damaging acidic mating, backing and an improper mounting with masking tape.  (At least they had not been glued down). In spite of the way they were framed,  the art had been well cared for and not exposed to much direct lighting. Therefore, they were still in very good condition with only a slight acid burn caused by the use of non-acid free materials. The masking tape, of course, had to be carefully removed before we could proceed with the conservation framing of these collectible Lithographs.

Both artworks were re-framed using archival materials, including UV protective glass to preserve the value of these two old gems.

Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as we did.

William Gropper

William "Bill" Gropper (1897-1977) was born in New York City, the eldest of 6 children. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Romania and Ukraine. Harry Gropper, Bill's father, was university-educated and fluent in 8 languages, but upon coming to America was unable to secure employment in a field for which he was well suited and could only find work in the garment industry. As a result, most of William's childhood was lived in poverty on New York's Lower East Side. Failure of the American economic system to make proper use of his father's education and abilities most likely contributed to William Gropper's lifelong antipathy to capitalism.

At age 13, Bill took his first art instruction class at Ferrer School, where he studied under two well known artists, George Bellows and Robert Henri. In 1913, Gropper graduated from public school, earning a medal in art and a scholarship to the National Academy of Design, however, the strong-willed young artist refused to conform to the academy's structure and was subsequently expelled. In 1915, Bill showed a portfolio of his work to the head of the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts. The work so impressed Frank Parsons that Gropper was offered a scholarship to the school.

William Gropper later became a notable cartoonist, painter, lithographer and muralist. A committed radical, Gropper is best known for his political artwork which he contributed to many left-wing publications.


"Island Hay"
Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) was born in Neosho, Missouri. During 1907 Benton enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago. He thereafter moved to Paris in 1909 to continue his art education and became well acquainted with many avant-garde artists. After studying in Europe, Thomas returned to America in 1913 and settled in New York City to resume his art career. During World War I, he served in the U.S. Navy at Norfolk, Virginia and received an assignment to design and instruct others on how to "properly" paint camouflage. After the war, Benton returned to New York and soon after declared himself an "enemy of modernism". It was at this time when he began the naturalistic and representational work he is most noted for. During the 1930's he returned to the mid-west and found his acceptable place in Kansas City, MO.

Thomas Hart Benton became one of the foremost painters and muralists associated with the American Regionalists of the 1930's along with Grant Wood and John Steuart Curry. Benton taught at the Art Students League in New York City, where a young Jackson Pollock was one of his pupils. Later, from 1935 to 1941 Benton was an art instructor at the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design, Kansas City, Mo.