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Lise Soskolne  Artist
Men & Memories
This painting was made in 2005 and removed from the stretcher around 2008. After being rolled up in storage for over a decade, it was re-stretched for this exhibition which is the first time it has been seen or shown. The lettering is made of oil paint applied through a low-tack adhesive mask cut from the font Arnold Boecklin. I chose Arnold Boecklin because it was close to an exact replication of the cover text for a publication found at Strand Books in the art section’s dollar catalog bins. The catalogs were unsorted and filed with their spines to the left, so the only way to search them was one at a time. Men & Memories stood out because of its dimensions—it was taller and slimmer than most of the hundreds and thousands of others. Looking back, searching the bins was like being at an art fair featuring the entire history of the world’s unsold artworks and forgotten artists—their collective output no longer worth the paper it was printed on. For that reason, it was better not to open the catalogs and just stay focused on the cover art. That was what I did. As a result, I had over time and until today convinced myself that Men & Memories, with its Art Nouveau script on a deep pink background, was a book of sheet music for a joyful song from the 1930s. As it turns out, Men & Memories is a 1972 exhibition catalog honoring the life and work of the English painter William Rothenstein. Marking the centennial of his birth, the title refers to his memoir, Men and Memories: Recollections, 1872-1938. A beloved figure in the art world of his day, Rothenstein lived from 1872 – 1945. He was renowned for the quality of his portraiture but equally for his generosity and the support he gave to other artists. Men & Memories recollects his love of craft and ornament, as well as his advocacy within the art academy for the deeply held conviction that only those who were experienced craftsmen were fit to teach others.
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