Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jacob Epstein (November 10, 1880)

Jacob Epstein, born and brought up in New York, became a thoroughly British avant-garde sculptor, a leader in 20th century modern art. His work appears in every collection from his era -- here, "The Rock Drill" from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Epstein and two other early 20th century giants inspired the following limerick:
I don't like the family Stein,
There is Gert, and there's Ep, and there's Ein,
Gert's poems are bunk,
Ep's statues are junk,
And nobody understands Ein.
I've already written about Gert and Ein!

To be serious about Epstein here is a summary from the Courtauld Institute:
"Jacob Epstein ... was born in America, the son of Polish Jewish immigrants who ran a successful business on the lower East side of New York. He spent the formative years of his childhood drawing the exotic, down-at-heels crowds which gathered from all over the world in the city’s poorer districts. Throughout his life, he remained fascinated by the variety of human races and traditions, looking to distant countries for his artistic inspiration.

"The caricature of Epstein as iconoclast, wreaking havoc on traditional art, scarcely fits his own explanation of his work. Repeatedly, he asserted his enormous respect for tradition. Only, his definition of tradition departed from the norm, in that he rejected the development of European art since the Renaissance."

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