|A Gift to Biro-Bidjan:
From Despair to New Hope
Louis Weiner (1892-1967)
from the portfolio A Gift
to Biro-Bidjan, 1937
|Louis Weiner was born in
Vinnitza, Ukraine, and studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and
the Art Institute of Chicago. He was a member of the Palette and Chisel
Club, the Little Gallery of Evanston and the Chicago Society of Artists.
His works have been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania
Academy of Fine Arts and the Midland Club of Chicago.
For many years, he contributed block prints to the annual calendar of the Chicago Society of Artists.
In the book Art of Today: Chicago, 1933 (written by J.Z. Jacobson and published by L.M. Stein), Weiner, like William Jacobs, emphasizes the universal nature of his work:
I avoid the introduction into my work of national, racial, or religious elements for their own sake. I believe that art is universal and makes use of elements, emotions, and phenomena which are in their essence the same the world over and in all time.
No Business expresses the universal themes of poverty and despair, but the site that Weiner selected is local and specific. It is the Maxwell Street Market in the heart of the Jewish community of Chicago’s West Side. The images of orthodox Jews and the structures of the stands resemble those in Geller’s woodcut Maxwell Street, 1925.
Maxwell Street was far removed from the realization of the American Dream. Resembling the bazaar-like atmosphere of an Eastern European town, it was the “old country” come to life, instead of the progress and the prosperity of the New World. It echoed the same dilemma of identity that was recognized in Bronx Express.
Like Bohrod’s West Side, No Business expresses, in historical and geographical contexts, the economic hopelessness of the Depression or the despair of identity of the Jewish immigrants.
|Todros Geller (1889-1949), Maxwell Street, Chicago, 1925, Woodcut, from the book From Land to Land.|