Americans abroad: the 1930s, politics, and the experience of Europe.
Its funny here or I mean its so diff[erent] in Europe than America. For one thing there is no Red Scare and no scandal stories of U.S.S.R. Its being close enuf so people wouldn't possibly believe tales of starvation etc. So everyone who isn't actually something else, like a Monarchist or a Fascist or a Democrat, is a Communist. Or at least lots of them are--more than in America and its respectable to be one even in the eyes of the bourgeoisie.
--Dorothy Dehner. (1)
In American you feel the gigantic cogs grinding faster and louder towards their own destruction where and few recognize the noise--in france the din is higher pitches--from smaller wheels and still smaller cogs in motion by themselves--the wheels of greece are dead--the pillars of ancient culture and slavery show attempts of replacement and succeding downfall ofreplacement--the wounded and halt group for a footing on ground that stinks of decay.
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According to the cliche, travel broadens the mind. Along with the sense of discovery which comes from experiencing things new and different, there is a tendency to find what is expected and to confirm what is already known. (3) The epigraphs to this piece suggest that Dorothy Dehner (1901-1994) and David Smith (1906-1965) responded to their 1935-1936 trip to Europe in precisely these predictable ways as they commented on the differences between the United States of America and European countries visited. Dehner's sentences were casual in nature, appropriate for a letter written to close friends back home in New York. Smith's words, on the other hand, had no specific audience. His allusive and more formal phrases were entered in a notebook he carried while traveling. While Dehner spoke enthusiastically about the acceptance of communism she observed in Europe, Smith took a more pessimistic view of the way the weight of the past combined with industrialization--in other words, capitalism--doomed the USA, France, and Greece. Despite these disparate approaches, both analyses are constructed around a leftist political framework. That Marxist-based perspective was carried with them to Europe and reinforced by their time abroad.
Dehner and Smith's nine-month sojourn in Europe has been regularly acknowledged in the literature, but scholars have touched only briefly on the details. To date, the best recounting of the trip has been provided by Judith McCandless as part of her important work, undertaken in collaboration with Joan Marter, on Dorothy Dehner. (4) However, McCandless, along with other scholars, has drawn attention to the art seen by Dehner and Smith to the exclusion of other activities. Because American artists rarely had the opportunity to travel abroad in the midst of the Great Depression, Dehner and Smith's direct contact with European culture is of legitimate interest. (5) Such encounters served to underscore their prominence amongst American modernists of their generation. Nonetheless, my goal is to argue that there is ample evidence of a more complex experience of Europe: of artists not only caught up with seeing art, but making art; of cultural tourists enjoying the traditional pleasures of sightseeing, while carefully observing the political landscape of the places visited. Given this new perspective, the months in Europe emerge as a rich period of exploration which was much more than a simple encounter with art past and present. The trip served to expand and reinforce Dehner and Smith's distinctly leftist world view. Further, their experiences gave them ample evidence of an alliance between avant-garde art and the political left.
As the SS Manhattan prepared to cast off on 9 October 1935, Dehner and Smith were accompanied to the port by Dehner's "Aunt Flo" (Florence Uphof) and one of the couple's close friends, Lucille Corcos (fig. 1). (6) Dehner and Smith's extensive correspondence with Corcos and her husband Edgar Levy provides a vital record of their travels. Friends since the late 1920s when all four attended classes at the Art Students League, they made a regular exchange of letters which chronicled a host of activities from the mundane to the dramatic while offering wide-ranging insights into Dehner and Smith's reactions to their travels. Among the more striking aspects of this journal-like record was the extent to which the letters presented an intense and regular discussion of leftist political issues. In addition, they revealed that Dehner and Smith carefully sought out leftist publications. (7) These letters made it perfectly clear that their politics were communist, not merely generically leftist in orientation. Each made regular references to seeking communist acquaintances, visiting communist organizations, participating in communist meetings and rallies, and reading communist authors while in Europe. (8) Their political position was further clarified by negative remarks about socialism which they presented as a poor, even dangerous, alternative to communism. (9)
Dehner and Smith's Marxist-based reading of the contemporary political situation in Europe shaped the very itinerary they followed. Their visit to the USSR was a crucial goal of the trip from its conception, Smith and Dehner having applied for their Soviet visas through Intourist before they left the USA. (10) At the same time, they rejected other destinations based on political considerations. Even though Dehner came from a family of progressive thinkers, she had spent approximately six months in Italy during a previous visit to Europe, seemingly undeterred by the political leanings of the regime in power. (11) But as she and Smith became increasingly politicized in the early 1930s, they made a conscious decision not to visit Italy in 1935-36 because of Mussolini's fascist government. (12)
The fact that Dehner and Smith were strongly influenced by leftist politics was hardly unusual for American artists of the mid-1930s. However, while their political perspective has long been noted, its implications for their life and work has been little absorbed into scholarship. Smith, especially, flickers on the margins of discussions of political activism of the era, duly acknowledged as having signed the Call for the American Artists' Congress (before he left for Europe) and for becoming a member of the Artists' Union (after he returned). (13) His Medals for Dishonor, as well as a handful of other objects produced in the late 1930s and 1940s, have been linked to leftist views. (14) Less has been said about Dehner's political beliefs, in part because her public record in this arena is fainter even than that of Smith, although it should be taken into account that she had little professional profile of any sort in the 1930s. Dehner and Smith's trip to Europe served neither as the origination point nor conclusion of their interest in and involvement with leftist politics. However, these months do offer ample evidence of the precise nature of their political attitudes, and insights into the complex relationships which they saw as functioning between art and politics.
Certainly it is understandable that Dehner and Smith's months in Europe have been reduced to a few lines as part of an overview of the "early years." If the trip merely serves to justify the position that these artists are better American modernists because of their intimate access to European art, that is all that need be said. However, the prejudices revealed by these repetitions are worth considering, especially for the formalist assumptions which appear to be at work. In addition to the previously mentioned emphasis on seeing art--absorbing the cultural traditions that form the roots of modernism as well as modernism itself--there is a significant tendency among scholars to focus on, or even exaggerate, the time spent in Paris. These biases continue into the most recent scholarship--for example this summary statement about the trip from 2006: "Smith spent nearly a year in Europe between October 1935 and July 1936, most of it in Paris." (15) As the capital of the avant-garde, Paris in the mid-1930s was the single most important place where Americans abroad could digest the newest trends in the visual arts. Indeed, Dehner and Smith headed first to Paris and returned there later in their trip, eventually spending a total of eight or nine weeks in the "City of Light." These visits were significant and productive for the artists, but they were not continuous and constituted less than one-quarter of the total time they were abroad. (16)
In addition to an emphasis on Paris, this sentence reveals one additional scholarly prejudice not previously mentioned: namely, it privileges Smith's activities over those of his spouse Dehner. Without question Smith was and is the more famous, and his contributions to twentieth century American art are considered to be of greater significance; yet to speak exclusively of his trip to Europe without reference to Dehner reveals a gender bias difficult to justify given the active role she took first in funding and then reporting their travels. (17) Besides these considerable practical contributions, Dehner shared Smith's interests in culture, the production of art and a commitment to leftist politics, all elements which factored into their activities in Europe. It is difficult, and perhaps unnecessary, to disengage the views of one from the other at this particular period in their lives.
The question of untangling the experiences of Smith from those of Dehner is further complicated by the fact that Dehner outlived Smith by almost three decades. She embraced the role of "keeper of the flame" with regard to Smith's early career and responded with patience and great consistency to scholars (including this one) who interviewed her. What was asked and answered in those interviews helped to frame the way in which Dehner's and Smith's lives have been understood. Dehner's own publications further extended her influence, the most pertinent being a fond reminiscence of John Graham, an influential friend and mentor to the couple. (18) The ready availability of material relating to Graham's role has no doubt factored into other treatments of this trip.
As gauged by the entire surviving record--works of art, notebooks and correspondence dating from the trip itself, plus information both artists reported in later reminiscences--Dehner and Smith, from their first days in Paris, established a rhythm of activities that was maintained throughout their trip. They made art, kept abreast of local and international politics, and visited museums, galleries and historical sites. Scholars have stressed Dehner and Smith's contact with European culture, especially avantgarde art as defined by Cubism and Surrealism. (19) On the rare occasion when works by Dehner or Smith have been discussed as produced in Europe, they serve as evidence of exposure to that avant-garde--as in Miranda McClintic's description of a Smith painting executed in Paris as revealing "the influence of Picasso's Surrealist-tinged Synthetic Cubism" or Edward Fry's observation, "Surviving oil sketches made during this trip reveal Smiths' direct contact with, and response to, Parisian surrealist imagery and styles." (20) However, the record is more extensive and complex than these examples suggest. Along with works influenced by modernism--in greater numbers than previously acknowledged--Dehner and Smith made objects in other styles. Of those, some were conventionally naturalistic, but others come closer to a practice of social realism. As a body, the works reflect a greater range of stylistic vocabulary and thematic subject matter than previously connected with the trip to Europe. They also demonstrate that, for Dehner and Smith, avantgarde art was not merely an independent series of formal experiments, but could be linked to a specific social agenda.
Until now, there has been no systematic study of works Dehner and Smith produced during their trip to Europe. My investigation resulted in the identification of a substantial group of objects which can be securely tied to these months. Smith, typically prolific, produced twenty-seven paintings, four elaborate drawings, at least five prints, and four small sketchbooks with numerous sketches and many pages of prose observations. While his sketches and notations show evidence of work in each country on the European itinerary, he was most active making art in France, Belgium and Greece. Dehner produced fewer works of art, although the record is clouded by the fact that many of her paintings from early years of her career were destroyed while in storage at Bolton Landing. (21) There is also reference to a now-lost sketchbook she filled with drawings while in Greece. (22) Still, there are ten surviving independent drawings in a variety of media which she made during this trip, mostly in Paris and in Greece.
In this period of her career, Dehner was working in a naturalistic style, and the surviving objects appear to be rooted in direct observation. Among them are landscape scenes, urban vignettes, and studies of individual figures. Of these works, the landscapes seem most closely related to Smith's production from this same period. While abroad, Smith's painterly investigations of modernism were interspersed with more naturalistic renderings, including landscapes executed in Athens and its environs. (23) His sketchbooks from the trip include numerous studies of particular sites, especially port cities of the Peleponesus and on the island of Crete. (24) However, Dehner's keen analysis of places and people is primarily communicated through simplified forms which privilege details over fully-realized compositions. This independent direction in her work looks forward to the self-consciously naive style adopted for her well-known "Life on the Farm" series (1941-44). (25)
Two series of works dominate Smith's production during the months in Europe: the first deals with billiard players and the second, women riding bicycles. Both themes were explored in paint, pencil, and ink over a period of months, and in more than one location. Each is consistent with his practice of abstracting forms from a more naturalistic source image--a modernist exercise used from his earliest training at the Art Students League. Throughout his career he continued a similar process of intensively working and reworking forms across media.
Of the two, only the billiard player series has received much previous scholarly attention, although not in the context of Europe but because of its relationship to one of Smith's best known sculptures from the 1930s, Billiard Player Construction (1937). (26) Despite Smith's having produced four paintings, two prints, two finished drawings, and numerous sketches related to this theme while in Europe, the sculpture has not been considered as rooted in the voyage abroad. This no doubt reflects the fact that when attention is directed toward Smith's two-dimensional work, there is a tendency to search only for connections to his sculpture--the medium associated with his modernist innovations. Smith, like Dehner, studied painting at the Art Students League, but he began to experiment with three-dimensional art while visiting the Virgin Islands with Dehner (October 1931 to June 1932).27 His famous early investigations with welded metal began in 1933; however, his only surviving works from Europe are two-dimensional. That no sculpture survives from the months abroad can only have contributed to a limited scholarly interest in the trip. (28) However, a painting from the billiard player series, clearly labeled as produced in Athens, was very close to the three-dimensional version he would undertake when back in the United States (fig. 2). Returning to the theme again and again in the two-dimensional examples done in Europe, he stripped away the details and wove together the fundamental elements of players, billiard table, cues, and balls into an abstract unit that captured the elegant sweep of the "shot" attended by a specifically gendered heterosexual couple. These essentialized forms stand like sentinels at the game of life.
The bicycle theme has yet to be acknowledged except in passing, but is worth considering for several reasons, not the least of which is the sheer volume of related works Smith produced: seven paintings, six drawings, and one print. While late nineteenth-century feminists embraced the bicycle as an agent of emancipation for women, Smith's female riders are not particularly progressive. (29) The "inspiration" source image for the series was a clipping from a "girlie" magazine showing three bathing suitclad women posed on the seats of the bicycles at the edge of a body of water (fig. 3). As he worked with this source image, Smith further sexualized the women by exposing the breasts of the figure on the left; at the same time, he stripped the setting of its details and emphasized the linkage among the three figures (fig. 4). Not all the works in the series can be dated, but some were inscribed with information about when and where they were made. (30) This documentation indicates that, as with the billiard player theme, Smith's interest in the subject was not limited to a particular location and was sustained for much of the trip. Over time there was a tendency for Smith to abandon the details of the source image altogether, and in later examples the bicycles all but disappear except for the vestigial wheels found at the base of one or another of the figures.
These modernist experiments may seem fully removed from any political agenda. Yet, for Dehner and Smith, mid-1930s Europe provided ample evidence of a close and supportive alliance between avant-garde politics and avant-garde art in a range of styles. Although the Communist International had officially abandoned modernism in 1934, nothing Dehner and Smith encountered in Europe forced them to acknowledge that position. (31) Instead, what they noted with enthusiasm was the impact of the Popular Front: "The United Front is simply wonderful here, it actually has some effect on the government. Every newsstand sells L'Humanite and hammers and sickles are all over the bill boards. The Socialists are sticking to the Com[munists] to get the gov't. to suppress the Croix de Feu which is the stinkingest outfit imaginable." (32)
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The Popular Front's emphasis on broadening the appeal of communism in order to stem the tide of fascism was reflected in the leftist support for modernism which Dehner and Smith observed. A letter from Smith to Levy described an incident in Paris that provided evidence of communist support for modern art: "The fascists (Croix de feu) here threw a rumpus during the sale of cubist paintings and brot up the issue of spending the people's money for such crap. The artists and writers club (Communist) is defending the cubists (etc)." (33) This perspective was reinforced by their experience attending a movie screening sponsored by the communist party, as Dehner reported to Corcos and Levy: "It was made by a Communist guy and the thing was given by the Party. Parts of it were swell and in the one picture very abstract. (All jubilantly accepted by the comrades, abstraction and everything.)" (34)
Given Smith and Dehner's experiences in Europe and the manner in which they wove them together, it is not difficult to understand why they could operate under the assumption that modernist art was supported by, and meaningful to, the Communist Party. Therefore, there need be no obvious tie beyond modernist practice to bring together the couple's radical political views with Smith's bicycle women or billiard players and Dehner's view of the banks of the Seine. However, objects exist which reveal that, on occasion, Dehner and Smith made art in keeping with a more conventional social agenda while in Europe.
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The most obvious instance of Smith's willingness to place his art at the service of politics is his small drawing Give your money to Jesus this day for a charity auction held on board ship as he and Dehner traveled to Leningrad (fig. 5). The uniqueness of the situation is reinforced by the profound difference between the resulting drawing and others he executed while in Europe.
Inspired by Joe Hill's song, "Pie in the Sky," Smith's tambourine player was one of the "long-haired preachers" from the "starvation army" who sing, dance and pray, "Till they get all your coin on the drum." (35) Although his eyes are closed and his face sanctimoniously turned aside, the clergyman firmly directs the viewer's attention to the upturned tambourine with his hands. The irony of Smith using this image to raise money "for the cause" from the first class passengers must not have been lost on him and Dehner and their "fellow travelers" in third class. (36)
While in Athens, Dehner executed two drawings of street figures from the margins of Greek society. Her study of a lanky female proffering lottery tickets for sale offers an incisive record (fig.6). The subject's functional clothing and haggard appearance convey the hardships that brought her to the street with no more to offer passersby than a chance at fortune. A second image of a Greek street person functions as a pendant to the lottery seller (fig. 7). Seated at a makeshift cobbler's bench repairing a shoe, this man has a trade, but plies it in the meanest of settings. These two works are consistent with the stylistic range of Dehner's surviving objects from Europe, but reveal a sympathy for the subjects that goes beyond mere observation of colorful street life.
Photographs from the voyage provide the most dramatic link between the political concerns of the couple and the content of their art. They also reveal one final bias in the interpretation of this body of work. Although known to scholars for decades, these photographs have been all but ignored in favor of the few images which include Smith (thus presumably taken by Dehner or someone else). (37) The other dozens of photographs from this trip have attracted no attention whatsoever, despite a recent surge of interest in Smith's photographs. (38) Most likely this is because the works appear to document visually unexciting places in the manner of "straight photography." Some record conventional tourist sites such as the theater at Epidauros, (39) but many show residential neighborhoods with unpaved streets and open sewers (fig. 8). Too gritty to be charming reminders of travels abroad, neither do these images demonstrate the avant-garde photographic experiments--collage, double exposures, other manipulations of the negative--for which Smith has become known. (40)
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The majority of these photographs are social documents which record refugee settlements for Greeks uprooted from Asia Minor in the wake of the 1923 Lausanne Convention. (41) These refugees continued to live in squalid conditions more than ten years after their forced migration to the Greek mainland, an issue which surfaced in the tumultuous period in Greek politics coinciding with Dehner and Smith's visit. By capturing the reality of these crowded, neglected areas which were strongholds for the left, these photographs reflect the same political agenda apparent in Dehner and Smith's letters to Levy and Corcos. Nea Sfgia--identified in Smith's handwriting on the reverse of a print of fig. 8--is today Tavros, an enclave between Athens and Piraeus. A stop on an electric train that traveled from the cultural capital to the port, this area was easily accessible to Smith and Dehner during their stay in Athens. (42) A second example (fig. 9) again captures the poor conditions of the area--unpaved roads, shoddy construction--along with the remnants of political posters associated with the national election of 9 June 1935. At this time Ioannis Metaxas and his party of the far right received only 7.5 to 20.7 per cent of the vote in the refugee regions in and around Athens. (43) The photographs of these settlements also capture another reality. A disproportionate number of the refugee population were women and children, the striking absence of adult males the result of deaths and internments in the tumult surrounding the migration from Asia Minor (fig. 10). (44) That Smith contemplated publishing a photo essay of a selection of these photographs provides another trenchant example of his interest in making a range of art objects serving a variety of functions. (45)
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The dismal circumstances of the refugee settlements in and around Athens in 1935-36 documented in these photographs--more than three dozen in all--spoke to a humanitarian cause with specific implications for Greek politics of the era. Their relevance to the political climate of the day complements other evidence that Dehner and Smith were as carefully attuned to the political situation they encountered in Greece as they were in the other European countries visited. Years later Dehner spoke with great specificity of the turmoil experienced by the Greek government in the mid-1930s, recollecting the people as being openly opposed to fascism. (46) Along with the homegrown fascism of Metaxas, Dehner and Smith found evidence of international right-wing sympathizers -in Greece. (47) They also came face to face with a different sort of refugee--those fleeing the Nazi regime. (48)
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The open tensions between left and right were similar to those which they had found in France and Belgium, but once again their sympathies lay with the small but viable leftist movement. While in Athens, Smith offered Corcos and Levy a detailed assessment of leftist organizations in that country:
The communists are relatively strong, especially in the agricultural lands and the islands. In Athens they have only 5,000 out of the 1,000,000 inhabitants (5000 party members). There are dozens of political partys, three kinds of socialists and 2000 trotskyites. The communists keep a hard point of staying out of street fights with the political opposition. (49)
Dehner and Smith sought out communist party offices in Athens, as they had done in Paris, although language barriers made communication difficult and their foreign status made participation dangerous. (50) Despite these limitations on their political activities, Smith and Dehner took note of being in contact with like-minded people--as when their wearing of a button in support of Ernst Thaelmann caught the attention of their "vegetable man." (51) They were also willing to share their political perspective with people they met: "I'm working on a guy at the Am[erican] Exp[ress] a young Greek fellow University grad. Knows five languages well and earns $20 a month. Naturally I don't mention the word but just general topics." (52) However, the spectre of danger hovered over these politically-charged encounters. Their concerns were heightened by the fact that their mail was opened by the Greek post office. (53) The couple's decision to leave Athens to spend several weeks in Crete may have been precipitated by an encounter Smith had with the local constabulary. (54) Despite harassment from Greek authorities, Dehner and Smith remained committed to their communist ideals and their long-standing desire to visit the USSR.
Dehner and Smith's twenty-one day tour of the Soviet Union in June 1936 was the most public expression of their allegiance to communism. While this goal was articulated before they departed the USA, it took some careful planning to organize that part of their travels. (55) At one stage they intended to travel by sea from Greece to Odessa; but with transportation expensive and scheduling difficult, they chose to return to Paris, anticipating going from there to a port city to take a Soviet boat to Leningrad (St. Petersburg). (56) This second sojourn in Paris lasted several weeks. Their arrival coincided with annual May Day celebrations and the political triumph of the Popular Front in the French elections. By attending a May Day demonstration (57) and later marching with the leftist artists organization La Maison de Culture to Pere-Lachaise Cemetery as part of an election rally, they once again lived out the political alliance between leftists and modernist artists. (58) These additional days in Paris were also productive artistically, especially for Smith who executed additional paintings of billiard players and bicyclists, and made several prints at Stanley William Hayter's Atelier 17. (59) But with their months abroad drawing to a close, travel to the Soviet Union became their top priority.
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Finally, in the first day of June they set off by ship for Leningrad from Southampton (after having spent several days in London) to begin an Intourist-organized, twenty-one day tour of the USSR. (60) Less archival material survives from these final weeks of the trip. The correspondence with Corcos and Levy appears to have dropped away, but there are photographs of tourist sites from Leningrad and Moscow along with images of John Graham's family. Smith executed a few sketches during these weeks, and made notations about a handful of works, especially Russian icons, he saw in Soviet museums.
What evidence survives points to the fact that Dehner and Smith were eager cultural tourists, as they had been at other locations in Europe. From Leningrad, there is a typical tourist photograph of the Church of the Savior of the Spilt Blood seen from the Griboedov Canal. They also went to the Russian Museum where they saw the famous collection of icons including examples by Andrei Rublev. (61) They also visited the Winter Palace, now part of the State Hermitage Museum, where they viewed the collections, including old master paintings from the West. (62) Dehner recalled that before their visit they had heard rumors "of the Bolsheviks destroying everything that was royal," but they found that objects of the aristocratic regime had been meticulously preserved and presented with great care. (63)
There were similar activities in Moscow. A photograph recorded a city view looking toward the Kremlin and Red Square, with Spasskaya Tower and the onion domes of St. Basil the Blessed prominent in the skyline. (64) Again, there was evidence of Soviet respect for cultural heritage, in this case extending to works of western modernist painters on view at the State Museum of Western Art. Seeing "Matisse--early Cezanne--Picasso etc." in those galleries could only have reinforced the ties between avant-garde art and communist organizations Dehner and Smith had already experienced in western Europe. (65) At the same time, their photograph of Female Discus Thrower (1935) by Yelena Yanson-Manizer demonstrated their awareness of "socialist realism" in contemporary Soviet art. (66)
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Dehner and Smith left the package tour around 8 June 1936, perhaps to spend time with family and friends of John Graham. (67) Dehner and Smith's visit with Graham's former wife Maria Dombrovsky and her children Cirill and Maria is the best known episode of the couple's visit to the USSR, thanks to Dehner's thorough retelling of the afternoon. (68) Dehner and Smith undertook this visit as a sort of pilgrimage on behalf of Graham. (69) As has been carefully documented elsewhere, Graham encouraged and guided Dehner and Smith's familiarity with European modernism, first in New York, and again in Paris. (70) The connection with Graham--extended here to Moscow--served once again to concentrate attention on Dehner and Smith's interest in art. After all, Graham's wife was part of the Soviet Union's cultural establishment; according to Smith, she was "in charge of restoration in the Byzantine Museum." (71) This web of personal ties could be seen as functioning as a self-sustaining world, buttressed by the documentation for this event that so overshadowed other information about their travel in the Soviet Union. Indeed, the connections they established in other European countries with communist groups are lacking in the USSR, unless one stops to consider that the entire visit fulfilled that goal.
Previous suggestions that the tour of the USSR was not meaningful or was somehow disappointing to Smith and Dehner must be carefully considered. Referring to the visit to the Soviet Union, Karen Wilkin has commented, "In a sense, the Smiths were too late--a proclamation issued at the first All Union Writers Conference in 1934 had already announced the official jettisoning of the avantgarde." (72) While she is correct with respect to the official party policy toward the avant-garde, it should be evident now that, as far as Dehner and Smith were concerned, ample indication existed of an ongoing link between leftist ideals and modernist art throughout their travel in Europe. There was no suggestion in the record that they were disillusioned by their visit to the USSR. On the contrary, Dehner communicated their enthusiasm for their experience on the back of a postcard showing the Moscow's People's Commissariat for Agriculture: "We are leaving this new world day after tomorrow. Gosh, what a place!" (73)
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Dehner and Smith returned to New York on 9 July 1936, but their sojourn abroad resonated through their lives and art for more than a decade. Smith turned to the billiard player theme almost immediately and would come back to that subject matter as late as 1945. Other sculptures from the Medals for Dishonor (1940) to Royal Bird (1947-48) explored Marxist political themes consistent with the communist world view reinforced and expanded by the experience of Europe. Souvenirs of the trip--for example, a small book illustrating early flying machines--influenced both artists: Smith as he executed preparatory drawings for the Medals for Dishonor series and Dehner as she made a group of drawings in the 1940s. In the 1950s when Dehner made her first monumental sculptures, she gave several of them titles taken from sites in Greece. Woven in amongst this art--sometimes overtly, at other times moving independently--was an ongoing political engagement shaped by their time in Europe.
I wish to express my appreciation to Loyola University Chicago for the research and travel stipend that made this project possible. A version of this paper was presented at the 2007 SECAC annual conference. I am most grateful to Joan Marter of the Dorothy Dehner Foundation for the Visual Arts for her assistance with my research. Candida Smith, Rebecca Smith, Peter Stevens, Executive Director, and Susan Cooke, Associate Director, kindly allowed me to avail myself of the resources of The Estate of David Smith.
(1.) Letter to Edgar Levy and Lucille Corcos, AAA Levy Papers, 89. The citation numbers for the Levy Papers, Dorothy Dehner Papers and David Smith Papers refer to cataloguing systems used by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Spelling, capitalization and punctuation from source documents have been maintained throughout the article.
(2.) Sketchbook #1 (1935-36), The Estate of David Smith. Unless otherwise noted, all works by David Smith are in the collection of The Estate of David Smith, New York.
(3.) For an overview of tourism theories, see Sharon Bohn Gmelch, Tourists and Tourism: A Reader (Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland Press, 2004).
(4.) Judith McCandless, "Dorothy Dehner: Life and Work," in Dorothy Dehner and David Smith: Their Decades of Search and Fulfillment (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers, 1983), 23-24.
(5.) Useful sources regarding modernist American artists in Paris are William G. Bailey, ed., Americans in Paris, 1900-1930 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989); Elizabeth Hutton Turner, Americans in Paris (1921-1931): Man Ray, Gerald Murphy, Stuart Davis, Alexander Calder (Washington, D. C.: Phillips Collection, 1996); and Sophie Levy, ed., A Transatlantic Avant-Garde: American Artists in Paris, 1918-1939 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004).
(6.) For verification of the departure of their vessel, see "Shipping and Mails," New York Times, 9 October 1935.
(7.) Smith summarized their reading materials while in Athens : "An english speaking Greek communist got us some American Daily Workers off the American Export boats. We read the socialist Daily Herald and Paris Humanite party paper of France." (AAA Levy Papers, 74) They also reported having obtained copies of New Masses through an acquaintance at the American Express office in Athens. (AAA Levy Papers, 19.)
(8.) While in Greece, Smith explained to Corcos and Levy, "Our acquaintanceship in all the countries we've visited runs to communists. Here it is so." (AAA Levy Papers, 74.)
(9.) This perspective is evident in Dehner's half-joking remark to Corcos and Levy, "I hope you don't get to be a socialist while we're away or we never would have gone." (AAA Levy Papers, Box 1, Correspondence 1935-36.) It is also apparent when Dehner commented on the manner in which the "British labor (Socialist) paper" was reporting the public reaction to the death King George V: "What a lousy almost-Fascist sheet it is!" (AAA Levy Papers, Box 1, Correspondence 1935-36.) George V died 20 January 1936.
(10.) Dehner interview with author conducted over several days in June 1985, hereafter cited as Dehner Interview. A contemporary reference to the visit is found in an undated letter Dehner wrote while still in the United States: "We are going to get vaccinated tomorrow as we are going to the Soviet." (AAA ND E 1 38) Founded in 1929, Intourist was the official state travel agency of the Soviet Union.
(11.) McCandless provides a helpful summary of this 1925 trip as well. "Dorothy Dehner: Life and Work," 21.
(12.) Dehner Interview. However, as they returned from Greece to France in Spring 1936, their ship docked briefly in Naples.
(13.) For an authoritative study of American artists and the left, see Andrew Hemingway, Artists on the Left: American Artists and the Communist Movement, 1926-1956 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002).
(14.) On the Medals for Dishonor, see Paula Wisotzki, "David Smith's Medals for Dishonor," Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University, 1988; Jeremy Lewison, David Smith: Medals for Dishonor, 1937-1940 (Leeds: Henry Moore Centre for the Study of Sculpture, 1991); and David Smith: Medals for Dishonor (New York: Independent Curators, Incorporated, 1996). For further information about Smith's involvement with the left, see Paula Wisotzki, "Artist and Worker: The Labour of David Smith," Oxford Art Journal 28 (2005): 347-370; and Paula Wisotzki, "Strategic Shifts: David Smith's China Medal Commission," Oxford Art Journal 17 (1994): 63-77.
(15.) Michael Fitzgerald, Picasso and American Art (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 2006), 150.
(16.) The trip involved a total of thirty-nine weeks, from 9 October 1935 to 9 July 1936. Dehner and Smith traveled by ship from New York to LeHavre, arriving on 16 October 1935. They spent the next seven weeks in Paris, although that stay was punctuated by a one or two week visit to Brussels in November. In early December, they went to Greece where they remained for about five months. Most of December and January were spent in Athens. They traveled around the Peleponesus by rail sometime between March 13 and April 13. They also spent time on the island of Crete, in either February or April. At the end of April 1936, they made their way back to Paris via Naples, Malta and Marseille. After a second sojourn in Paris, they went to London for a brief stay and from there departed on a twenty-one day tour of the Soviet Union. After a few more days in London, they returned by ship to New York.
(17.) Dehner had a trust fund that provided an income of $2000 per annum throughout the 1930s and these monies, along with a gift from her Aunt Florence Uphof, were the principle sources of funding for the trip (Dehner Interview). Dehner produced a majority of the surviving letters.
(18.) Marcia Allentuck, ed., John Graham's System and Dialectics of Art. With a forward by Dorothy Dehner. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1970). Here, Dehner vividly recounted a whirlwind tour of Paris which Graham provided for the newly-arrived couple, and a visit to Graham's family in Moscow.
(19.) They recognized that Surrealism dominated the contemporary art scene. One of Dehner's letters commented that "surrealism" was everywhere in Paris (AAA Levy Papers, 61). Smith thought in terms of the new style when making notations about the phantasmagorical visions of Northern Renaissance painters. For example, with regard to Pieter Bruegel the Elder's The Fall of the Rebel Angels, he noted "surrealist temptations." Sketchbook #1 (1935-36). Smith made what amount to abbreviated condition reports about art objects he encountered throughout his travels in Europe. Sketchbooks #1 (1935-36), #4 (1935-36) and #8 (1935-36). Miranda McClintic provides a useful discussion of these notations. David Smith (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979), 10. These entries reflect Smith's interest in the practical considerations of producing art in various media, which paralleled his position as a technical advisor to the WPA prior to his trip to Europe. It can be surmised that he anticipated taking up a similar post when back in the USA.
(20.) McClintic, David Smith, 1;, and Edward Fry and Miranda McClintic, David Smith: Painter, Sculptor, Draftsman (New York: George Braziller, 1982), 10.
(21.) See Joan Marter, "Dorothy Dehner and David Smith: Their Decades of Search and Fulfillment," in Dorothy Dehner and David Smith: Their Decades of Search and Fulfillment. (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers, 1983), 18.
(22.) McCandless, "Dorothy Dehner: Life and Work," 24.
(23.) Untitled, 1936, oil on canvas, 11 % x 15 % in. Estate #7530.006, "David Smith Jan Athens 1936." Three additional works may have been executed around that same time and in a similar location.
(24.) See Sketchbooks #1 (1935-36) and #8 (1935-36). A painting, Estate #7530.014, shows the harbor at Nafplion and is related to a photograph Estate #9836.027neg.
(25.) See Judd Tully, "Dorothy Dehner and Her Life on the Farm with David Smith," American Artist 47 (1983): 58-61, 99-102.
(26.) Illustrated as plate 17 in David Smith: A Centennial (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2006).
(27.) AAA ND 4 267.
(28.) Much more attention has been given to sculpture that does not survive than to the two-dimensional work which does. These reports are rooted in Smith's comment that while in Greece he "[d]id two sculptures which I had cast in bronze and abandoned them because of poor casting." (AAA ND 4 270).
(29.) For one example, see Frances Willard, A wheel within a wheel: how I learned to ride the bicycle, with some reflections by the way (Chicago: Woman's Temperance Publishing Association, 1895).
(30.) Two of the paintings were produced in Brussels in November 1935, and a third was made on March 9, 1936 in Athens: Estate #7530.032, Estate #7530.032, and Estate #7530.004. A print which is very close to the image of another, undated painting from the series, was probably made during the second stay in Paris (May, 1936): Print: Cyclists, c. 1946, etching, 4 % x 6 1/8 in. Painting: Untitled, oil (?) on paper, Estate #7330.005B.
(31.) The official position supporting socialist realism to the exclusion of other forms of expression was presented at the 1934 Soviet Writers Congress. See John Garrard, Inside the Soviet Writers Union (New York: Free Press, 1990).
(32.) AAA Levy Papers, 59. It is possible that, in this instance, Dehner used the term "United Front" as an equivalent for "Popular Front." It is unclear whether or not she equated the two, but in reality there was a distinction. Appearing in 1932 and eventually overshadowed by the appearance of the Popular Front three years later, the less rigorously defined United Front regarded capitalist democracies as the enemy and generally equated them with fascism. When the fascism of Nazi Germany was determined to be a more immediate threat to the existence of the Soviet Union, the Popular Front was established, sanctioned by the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International in August, 1935. Among the many sources that discuss the impact of this political strategy on culture is Michael Denning, The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997). Dehner also suggested a similar policy could be useful in the United States, "They're [CPUSA] simply nuts not to have a united front. Its marvelous how it works in France. They actually force important issues on the gov't and we can never do it without." AAA Levy Papers, 79. The contrast between the situation in France as opposed to the political landscape of the USA no doubt overshadowed any sense that the policy was already in effect there, too. It is worth nothing that Dehner's comment suggests that each national communist party acted independently, rather than in lockstep with the dictates of Moscow.
(33.) AAA Levy Papers, 50.
(34.) AAA Levy Papers, 73.
(35.) This Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) protest song, first published in 1911, was a parody of the Salvation Army hymn "In the Sweet By and By" and meant to be sung to that same melody. Industrial Workers of the World Songs or "The Little Red Songbook" (London: W. Oliver, 1916.) The title assigned to the drawing comes from these lyrics.
(36.) According to Enid Hutchinson, another of the third class passengers on the voyage to Leningrad, the receipts from the auction were to go to another passenger--Eslanda Goode, wife of actor, singer and activist Paul Robeson. (Letter from Enid Hutchinson dated 15 March 1991, The Estate of David Smith)
(37.) There are approximately 110 surviving negatives from the trip to Europe. Best known is a New York port image showing Dehner and Smith along with Corcos and Florence Uphof (Dehner's Aunt) published in Garnett McCoy, Garnett, ed., David Smith (London: Allen Lane, 1973) pl. 7, Karen Wilkin, Smith (New York: Abbeville Press, 1984), 21, and David Smith: A Centennial (New York: Guggenheim Museum, 2006), 394.
(38.) Most notably the exhibition and catalog, David Smith: Photographs 1931-1965, introduction by Rosalind E. Krauss, essay by Joan Pachner, (New York: Matthew Marks Gallery, 1998). The authorship of these photographs, like so many aspects of this journey, is difficult to assign exclusively to either Dehner or Smith. Throughout their relationship many of their ventures were co-operative, with Dehner assumed to be functioning in a supporting role. Dehner made a later reference to photographs "we took in Greece," (AAA 1372 157) but at another point was clear about having taken some of the photographs herself when describing a Moscow visit to John Graham's family (AAA 1372 173). However, notations in Smith's hand appear on the back of many of the contemporary prints of photographs from the trip to Europe. The images of the refugee settlements in Greece have the most detailed markings recording various combinations of place, camera exposure, and time of day.
(39.) Estate #9836.061neg.
(40.) For examples, see David Smith: Photographs 1931-1965, especially 31-42.
(41.) Important sources regarding the Asia Minor refugee crisis are Bruce Clark, Twice a Stranger: How Mass Expulsion Forged Modern Greece and Turkey, ppbk ed. (London: Granta Books, 2007); Renee Hirschon, Heirs ofthe Greek Catastrophe: The Social Life ofAsia Minor Refugees in Piraeus (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989); and Eva E. Sandis, Refugees and Economic Migrants in Greater Athens: A Social Survey (Athens: National Centre of Social Research, 1973). There is one other occasion during the trip to Europe where a group of photographs fell into the category of photojournalism: nine negatives documenting a rally in Hyde Park (Estate #9836.015-9836.017 and Estate #9836.020-9836.025). The images recorded various stages of the event: the crowd gathered, uniformed policemen--mounted and on foot--appeared amongst the demonstrators, and speakers harangued the assembled throng. Smith later specified that one of the speakers was Maurice Thorez (1900-1964), general secretary of the French Communist Party: "Heard Thorez, French Communist, address (couldn't understand it) an open meeting in Hyde Park" (AAA ND 4 270). However, no such visit is mentioned in Thorez's autobiography Son of the People, trans. Douglas Garman (New York: International Publishers, 1938). Still, Thorez would have been a familiar figure to Dehner and Smith thanks to the recent triumph of the Popular Front in French elections which swept a leftist coalition into power. The banners and flags carried onto the field and arrayed on the stage--where the flag of the communist party was prominently displayed--left no doubt who was responsible for the demonstration and therefore serves as another example of Dehner and Smith having sought out communist events while in Europe. A clue to the rally's more specific focus was provided by a banner at the rear of the stage exhorting the crowd that "The League must stay! Baldwin must go!" In Spring 1936, Britain, under the leadership of prime minister Stanley Baldwin, was in the midst of a crisis over participation in League of Nations sanctions against the fascist government of Italy. With Italy and Ethiopia both members of the League of Nations, Italy's invasion of Ethiopian territory in October 1935 had challenged the influence of the international organization. The League served as a cornerstone of France and Britain's policy of "collective security" against the Germans, and not incidently was considered a vital anti-fascist force by radicals in Europe. However, the League's tenuous hold on legitimacy was further undermined as Italy officially annexed Ethiopia on 9 May 1936, and again when Baldwin's cabinet debated abandoning support for the League's sanctions against Italy on 27 May, 29 May, 10 June and 17 June of that same year. (A thorough discussion of these events can be found in R.A.C. Parker, "Great Britain, France and the Ethiopian Crisis 1935-1936," The English Historical Review 89 (1974): 293-332.) Despite the demonstration, it was Baldwin who stayed and the League which suffered when the British cabinet agreed to the immediate raising of sanctions on 17 June 1936. With the acute interest in politics and current events Dehner and Smith demonstrated while in Europe, it is not surprising that they took an interest in Italy's invasion of Ethiopia, the subsequent war, and Britain's support for the League. The conflict was a crucial manifestation of fascist aggression and the League was considered a vital anti-fascist force by leftists. In a retrospective summary of the trip to Europe, Smith said that he had "witnessed the invasion of Ethiopia by Fascism." (AAA ND 4 272) Although this chronology is well known to scholars, no acknowledgment of this particular statement has been offered previously. Without question, there are instances where independent documentation suggests Smith sometimes mis-remembered, overstated, or even re-wrote his history. However, it is possible that Smith and Dehner actually traveled from Greece to North Africa, if not Ethiopia specifically, in early 1936, and that Smith's use of the term "witnessed" operated in a more literal sense A 1938 letter to Smith from British sculptor Douglas R. Bisset makes reference to "the other girl who went with us to Africa is still here, too." (AAA ND 1 87) Dehner and Smith met Bisset in Athens, where he was the winner of the Rome Scholar in Sculpture 1934. He had been sent to Athens because the British School at Rome was temporarily closed. (My thanks to Amalia G. Kakissis, Archivist, British School at Athens for information about Bisset.)
(42.) Smith also photographed the refugee settlement at Tzitzifies (today Kallithea). I am grateful to Charles R. Saturn and John Makris for their help in identifying these neighborhoods.
(43.) Hirschon, Heirs ofthe Greek Catastrophe, 47. A center-right coalition won that election, but Metaxas took control of Greece in a coup of August 1936.
(44.) Hirschon, Heirs of the Greek Catastrophe, 9.
(45.) One of the pages of Smith's European sketchbooks has a name and address written by another hand along with the notation "photo Greeks." ("Agnes Larsen c/o American Consulate Moscow"--written in a hand other than Smith's, Sketchbook #8 [1935-36].) The suggestion that Smith thought in terms of publishing a photo essay from these photographs derives strength from a parallel project (also unrealized) Dehner and Smith put together from photographs taken during their 1932-32 trip to the Virgin Islands. Pachner offers a useful overview of the Virgin Islands photographs and the pointedly political captions Smith composed to accompany them in her essay for David Smith: Photographs 1931-1965, 109.
(46.) "The [Evangelos] Venizelos government had been dissolved, which was very liberal. And they dissolved the Parliament because the communists had the most votes. [...] But the people were very, very left. And every wall had graffiti on it, and said: KATO O FASISMOS. Down with Fascism, down with Fascism." (Dehner Interview.)
(47.) Later, Smith would observe that he had been "fully aware of the Nazi penetration of Greece when I was there" (AAA ND 4 272).
(48.) "A lot of German refugees were there. Our neighbors where we lived in Greece ... we didn't live in a hotel there, we took an apartment.... [...] And there were three or four studios around this little courtyard. And the people next to us were both refugees. One was an art historian from Germany, who was very much a refugee, and his wife was a curator. They had to be refugees. But unfortunately we could never become friends with them, though we wanted to, because they were so scared." (Dehner Interview.)
(49.) AAA Levy Papers, 74.
(50.) One of Smith's letters concluded, "We are going tonight to party headquarters." (Levy Papers, 74) On another occasion Dehner mentioned that "The Eng[lish] D[aily] Worker] comes every day to Com hdgtrs here and they give it to us." (AAA Levy Papers, Box 1, Correspondence 1935-1936.) However, they soon discovered the limits of their political engagement with local communists, as Dehner observed, "We can't do anything politically at all as foreigners who frequent the com[munist] hdqters are deported and besides they only talk Greek and a little French." (AAA Levy Papers, 79)
(51.) "Our vegetable man is a Communist. We got a couple of Thaelman buttons in Paris--very small and bronze and have been wearing them and the guy recognized Thaelman and gets a fellow who speaks French to talk to me." (AAA Levy Papers, 89.) Ernst Thaelmann (1886-1944), an influential early leader of the German Communist Party, was arrested by the Nazis in 1933. A good deal of international attention was focused on his ongoing imprisonment in anticipation of his fiftieth birthday on 16 April 1936.
(52.) Dehner, AAA Levy Papers, 79.
(53.) "Got one from Celia [Brody] yesterday enclosing Browder's speech over W.A.B.C. and the letter had been opened and stamped by the Greek P.O." (Dehner, AAA Levy Papers, Box 1 Correspondence 1936.)
(54.) "They are such kindly people they've had both uniformed and plain clothes on my tail--nothing personal understand but my own welfare--they picked me up coming out of a wrong address--I had a tiff with a plain clothes boys on the main street--thot they were horehouse pimp when they accosted me the 2nd time--I started to smash one and called a nearby tourist foreign language cop to get the dirty bas-ds out of here before I swatted one--He says they are police, we talked in Greek style through an interpreter and I told them to go to hell--that this wasn't a fascist country yet--I compromised by telling them my name--they explained they were looking for someone who looked just like me--I haven't heard from them since--alls lovely and sunny now--I use the same addresses [?]--and we will be going soon or sooner if they wish--Tell nobody but Celia [Brody]. We are off to Crete in a day or two." (Smith, AAA Levy Papers.)
(55.) See above, p. 586.
(56.) Smith filled several pages of a small notebook he used during his stay in Greece with the scheduled ports-of-call for ships sailing toward Odessa at the end of April, 1936. (AAA ND 1 60, 61, and 63). But in a letter written from Paris, Smith explained to Corcos and Levy how it had come about that they had returned there instead:
We didn't get our tickets out of Greece till the night before we left, as up to the last minute we though maybe we could get a boat to Odessa. They are all cargo boats and they never know just where they are going till the last minute. We finally heard that the boat we intended to take to Russia first had to stop at Crete, Palestine and Egypt and a million other places and took 3 weeks to Odessa which of course was hellish expensive as it took so long. So we decided to come to Paris, stay here a month go to Antwerp or London and get the Soviet boat to Leningrad which is quick and cheap and come back the same way and get the boat to New York from South Hampton instead of LeHavre.
(AAA Levy Papers, 98.)
(57.) According to Dehner, "We went to the May Day doings here." In the same letter she indicated that they had read news reports of a large May Day parade in New York (AAA Levy Papers, 98 and 99).
(58.) "In 1936 I marched to Pierre [sic] Lachaise cemetaery with the Maison de Culture artists." (Smith, AAA ND 4 898.) The Maison de la Culture had been founded in April 1933 by an alliance of procommunist groups involved in the arts. See Donald Drew Egbert, Social Radicalism and the Arts: Western Europe (New York: Knopf, 1970), 308-311. The martyr's wall at the rear of Pere Lachaise, the site of the final line of defense of the Communards in 1871, was an important leftist symbol.
(59.) For a discussion of Smith's work at Hayter's Paris workshop, see David Smith: The Prints (New York: Pace Prints, 1987).
(60.) "Took a Russian Steamer to Leningrad and Moscow on a 21 day tour." (Smith, AAA ND 4 270.) Enid Hutchinson referred to the trip as an "Intourist package" of three weeks duration. It was, of course, on this trip that Smith made Give your money to Jesus this Day (fig.5). While in London, Dehner and Smith continued to demonstrate their intertwined interests in politics and art by visiting major museums, and attending the rally in Hyde Park (see fn. 41). A copy of "Bacon's New Large Print Map of London" among Smith's papers has tick marks next to the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery and the National Gallery of British Art (Tate Museum). One of Smith's sketchbooks contains the sort of abbreviated conditional reports he made in other locales for objects from the National Gallery and British Museum. Sketchbook #4 (1935-36).
(61.) Sketchbook #8 (1935-36).
(62.) Smith made observations about the state of a painting by Lucas Cranach from the Winter Palace collection. Sketchbook #8 (1935-36).
(63.) Dehner Interview.
(64.) Reproduced in Cleve Gray, ed., David Smith by David Smith (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968), 26.
(65.) Smith, AAA ND 4 270. The impact of the "Western Art Museum" lingered with Dehner almost five decades later: "And at that time, of course, it was all in this old palace. And you just go from room to room to room. And it was just covered, the walls were just covered." (Dehner Interview.) The State Museum of New Western Art, Moscow, was founded in 1928 with works from private collections including those of the Morozov and Shchukin families. It closed in 1948 and its collections were divided between Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
(66.) Estate #9836.029. On the sculpture, see Mike O'Mahony, Sport in the USSR: Physical Culture-Visual Culture (London: Reaktion Books, 2006), 117. According to O'Mahony, the work was on view in Gorkii Park, Moscow, but was subsequently removed. A reproduction of the sculpture appeared in Iskusstvo 6 (1935).
(67.) Hutchinson letter.
(68.) Allentuck, John Graham's System and Dialectics ofArt. Graham's Russian name is variously transliterated into English, but the spelling used here comes from a page in Smith's sketchbooks which records Cirill's Moscow address. Sketchbook #8 (1935-36).
(69.) Maria still resided in the house she and Graham had shared during their marriage (1912-1918), and Graham had provided Dehner and Smith with detailed instructions to find the correct building. (Dehner Interview) At the conclusion of the visit a series of photographs was taken in the building's common courtyard with the express purpose of passing them along to Graham. One of these photographs, presumably taken by Smith, shows five people gathered around Dehner (headband). (Estate #9836.014neg.) Another shows the same five people clustered around Smith. (Estate #9836.018print) It seems likely that this second photograph can be assigned to Dehner, especially given her later comment that she "took several of them."--referring to the "photographs of all of us outside in the courtyard [when David and I were in Moscow]." (AAA 1372 173) The identities of the Russian women in the photo graphs are difficult to establish. Dehner's account of the visit refers to the presence of an English-speaking friend of the younger Maria who facilitated communication amongst the group, but a fourth woman is not mentioned.
(70.) Along with Dehner's discussion of these influences (forward), a number of scholars have considered Graham's impact on his young American colleagues, among them Stanley E. Marcus, David Smith: The Sculptor and His Work (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983).
(71.) AAA ND 4 270.
(72.) Wilkin, David Smith, 22.
(73.) AAA Levy Papers.
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|Publication:||Southeastern College Art Conference Review|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2010|
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