Happy Birthday Louis Lozowick (December 10, 1892 – September 9, 1973)
by Samuel D. Gruber
Today is the birthday of American-Jewish artist Louis Lozowick, one of my favorite artists of the dynamic energy of the American city. Lozowick, who born in the Ludvinovka, Ukraine in 1892, came to the United States as an undocumented still-young art student in 1906. He studied art and graduated from college here, and served in the military before going back to Europe to spend time engaged with the avant-garde art movements of the interwar years. In Paris he was influenced by Leger and Gris, and he learned lithography in Berlin. He was especially influence by El Lissitzky and Russian Constructivism (as can be seen in his 1928 cover for New Masses, below). Back in America he became best known for his socially relevant art in New Masses and and then his bold black-and-white cityscapes that captured the stark geometry, steep angles and deep shadows of the new skyscraper city.
He loved depicting the engineering of the construction and the intricacy and mystery of machines and today Lozowick is best known for his lithographs of skyscrapers and machinery. But his output was quite varied. He was a consummate draftsman and craftsman, but he also had an eye for the unusual arrangement and incongruous juxtaposition. I'm sure his work influenced many American film noir directors, cinematographers and editors.
Unlike many of his Jewish contemporaries (like Raphael Soyer) Lozowick had no problem with being identified as a Jewish artist. But he said "there can be Jewish artists but no Jewish art, unless there be a social need for it," (Menorah Journal, July 1924). He was willing to exhibit in Jewish venues and publish in Jeiwhs cultural periodicals. But he considered his themes and styles contemporary and universal.
Many art historians have looked at Lozowick's work as part of studies from varied perspectives and as part of different groups or genres (urban, radical, Jewish, New York school, graphics, murals, etc.) but rarely has the spread of his career been considered. Today. Lozowick has the distinction - perhaps with another contemproary Max Weber, a being a little-known 20th-century great. A major exhibition of Lozowick's is overdue.Maybe in 2023 on the 50th anniversary of this death? Or why not sooner?
For a good sampling of his graphic work see here.
And even more work here.
Here is a biographical information from the Syracuse University Library where a few linear feet of papers relating to his life and career can be found.Much more material is held by the Smithsonian (see the fining aid here).
During the Depression Lozowick, like many of his fellow artists, created murals and prints for the WPA including a mural for the New York City General Post Office (1936). In 1931 he married Adele Turner, and in 1943 the couple moved to New Jersey where Lozowick remained for the rest of his career"