Saturday, April 30

Reginald Marsh, "Tattoo and Haircut," 1932


"Of the foremost realists of the 1930s, Reginald Marsh was fascinated by public behavior and the exciting commotion of New York. Tattoo and Haircut portrays a busy scene of people below the massive structure of the El on the Bowery, then an area notorious as a skid row. Rendered in Marsh’s gently satirical style are several city types: a derelict on crutches, loitering men conversing or smoking cigarettes, a chic woman walking by herself. Marsh used an egg tempera medium to fill every inch of the composition with details, from architectural elements to signs and text. Introduced to the artist by the muralist Thomas Hart Benton, the medium suited Marsh’s keen skills as a draftsman. Here he added successive films of tempera in muted colors, using its mottled, uneven surface to emphasize the grimy nature of this world. His technique thus reinforces his presentation of the subject: cacophonous, dilapidated, and dim, yet vibrantly alive."
The Art Institute of Chicago
W - Reginald Marsh

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