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Storm Over Manhattan & Subway Station

Who Am I? Exhibition

Published onAug 24, 2020
Storm Over Manhattan & Subway Station
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Storm Over Manhattan, 1936
Louis Lozowick (Russian – American, 1892–1973)
Lithograph
Gift of Lee Lozowick. Transferred from Applied Art Department. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
UM82.100

Subway Station, 1936
Louis Lozowick (Russian – American, 1892–1973)
Lithograph
Gift of Lee Lozowick. Transferred from Applied Art Department. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
UM82.99

Curator’s Interpretation 

Urban cityscapes and skyscrapers became the best-known visual language of artist Louis Lozowick (1892–1973). Born in the Ukraine, he began art school in Kiev and immigrated to the United States in 1906. We can only imagine the effect those first views of New York City had on the young art student, but we can assume the power and strength of the city must have captured his imagination. After serving abroad with the U.S. Army Medical Corps, Lozowick was discharged in 1919 and spent several formative years traveling throughout Europe. Befriending Russian avant-garde artists such as El Lissitzky, he began to focus on machines and industry in his art, aligning him with the American Precisionist art movement of the 1920s. A master of lithography, a printmaking method, his images of the 1930s honed in upon the city as his muse. Here, in one print, we see a somewhat bird’s eye view of a subway station, a mass transit system that has become emblematic of life in the city, spied upon by the artist through the industrial steel of a bridge or construction site. In the other print, the growing New York City skyline is dramatically lit by a thunderous storm above. The power of nature dueling with the power of man. Both prints speak to Lozowick’s fascination with the changing industrial landscape of the city in his spare visual style, not with coldness, but rather a reverence for what can be built when humans work together.

Adrienne Gennett
Who Am I? Exhibition Curator
Associate Curator of Collections and Education, University Museums

Interpretation 2

Depression-era art for the New Depression. The storm clouds are gathering, the people are leaving. But for the brave, the fortunate and the desperate, the leaving is an adventure, a path to tomorrow, across the Hudson to freedom from the temple-like subway station pulling commuters to their temporary destinies and skyscrapers buffeted by clouds and lightning. The city, frail beneath nature’s power, will be swept away but, as the floods rise in the tunnels and the buildings crumble, freedom awaits. It’s the freedom of the open fields, of wide skies, of self-sufficiency, of small but welcoming and inclusive communities, of exploded expectations and destroyed prejudices. It’s the freedom of a place for everyone, of places, yes, but of neither status nor stasis. It’s the freedom of potential realized, of an economy and machinery and politics employed for people not the other way round, of a shift from black and white to multihued. It is a turn away from the towers and the girders and the promise of Heaven to a place under the sun on earth, to the future now. From our New Depression, Hope.

Dr. Simon Cordery
Chair and Professor, History

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