Work of the Week – July 9, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 7th – 11th

Irving Amen Lady of the Lake  1965 ca, Etching, 17.75 x 13.62 inches

By Michelle Alwine

Irving Amen (1918-2011) showed interest in the arts at a very young age. His drawings were quickly noticed and by age four, Amen was considered a child prodigy. Soon after this recognition, he was awarded scholarship to the Pratt Institute at age fourteen. Amen attached to the beautiful technique of his hero Michelangelo and eventually went on to study in both Florence and Rome. Starting at such a young age, he had several amazing opportunities and experiences that led up to his later career in teaching, mural painting and printmaking.

From 1942-1946, Amen served with the Armed Forces and gained travel experience that led to several mural painting completions in Belgium and the United States. Shortly after his service, Amen had his first and second exhibitions displayed in the New School for Social Research in New York and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington in 1949.

Having taken this large step in his career as an artist, Amen began traveling in Europe. After spending time in Israel, Greece and Turkey, Irving Amen had the opportunity to spend time at the Artists House in Jerusalem. From Jerusalem, he headed to Paris where he displayed his talent and hard work with sculpture, woodcutting and mural painting.

In this work Lady of the Lake, Amen created a tangible expression with the use of lines. These lines portray a sun in the sky and a sailboat in the distance. In addition, the Lady’s facial expression is unforgettable and the lines that assemble her face create a mood that the viewers will not soon forget. Amen’s use of color brings a light to all the right places, which illuminates the piece.

In 1961, Irving Amen returned to the Pratt Institute, only this time he was there to teach and spread his knowledge of the arts. The following year, 1962, Amen taught at Notre Dame University. His commissions include the Peace Medal for the Vietnam War and 12 stained glass windows for the Agudas Achim Synagogue in Ohio. He is listed in Mantle Fielding Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers and the Dictionary of Contemporary American Artists by Paul Cummings.