• U.S.

American Expressionist

2 minute read

When leftist Philip Evergood’s big show opened in a Manhattan gallery last week, artists and critics alike flocked to get a look at it. There were also a few capitalist connoisseurs—checkbooks in hand.

They came to buy a brand of expressionism which seemed far to the right of Evergood’s politics. His strict sense of how to draw usually made a solid scaffold for his rags and flags of dramatic, loosely brushed color to fly from. When he was bad, Evergood was horrid. Some of his most obviously propagandistic work (American Tragedy, Jobs Not Dimes’) looked careless-on-purpose—like that of a politician who mispronounces words for effect. But thought-out paintings such as Juju as a Wave (a portrait of his wife—see cut) had a warmth of feeling which confirmed his considerable stature among U.S. contemporaries.

Evergood, who looks like a rosy-cheeked stockbroker played by Charles Laughton, has definite ideas about modern painting. He is against “the Morticists, the Gagaists, the Neo-Impressivists, the Neo-Depressivists, the Neophytes, the Spherists, the Circumventors and the Distractionists.” U.S.-born, but an Old Etonian, who lives and paints in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, he calls his own style “social painting.” Says he: “Goya’s is no less social than mine. And even if you like Goya better, you will have to concede . . . that my work is no nearer to … politics than his.”

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