Part of the reason for starting this blog is to talk a little about works in the gallery that are unusual or pique our curiosity beyond the norm, and this is the first in a number of such works I would like to feature. This is a mixed media print by artist Abe Rattner.
Abraham Rattner, a painter and printmaker, was born in New York in 1895. He studied at the same time at George Washington University and the Corcoran School of Art, in architecture and painting, respectively. He quickly decided to focus on art and went on to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 1917, World War I and his recruitment into the military as a specialist in camouflage design interrupted his education.
At the end of the war, Rattner settled in Paris where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, the Academies Julian, Ransom, and Grande Chaumiere, and the Sorbonne. He remained in France until the beginning of the World War II. Returning to the U.S., he took an extended road trip with the novelist, Henry Miller, whom he met in Paris and he worked at Atelier 17 in New York. Rattner held numerous teaching positions throughout his career. He was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and his work is included in Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Albright-Knox art Gallery, Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Rattner died in 1978.
This mixed media work is a working proof for a print that was intended for publication. It is based on a color etching Abe Rattner did at Atelier 17 in New York around 1943. The color etching measures 6-7/8 x 9-7/8″ and was done only in proofs and never editioned. An impression of that etching was exhibited in the 1944 exhibition Hayter and Studio 17 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is illustrated on page 4 of the catalogue.
Rattner’s wife, artist Esther Gentle (1899 – 1991), had worked in the screen-printing division of the WPA and, after the end of the WPA, began reproducing artists’ works in screenprint/pochoir for sale in museum gift stores, etc. She employed a number of artists that she had worked with at the WPA to assist. Many of these were done with the permission of the artist and occasionally, as in the case of Hans Hofmann in 1952, worked with Gentle (who had studied with him) to create the image. Some of her commissions were from museums and galleries.
This work, which measures 12 3/16 x 17 13/16″ image size was intended to reproduce the smaller etching, which was photographed, enlarged and printed in half-tone and then used to created screens for the screen printed reproduction.
This is a unique proof, with the black line and a couple of the colors created by screen, the majority of the color hand applied by Rattner. It does not appear that the print was ever published. The Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art has two impressions of the etching and a black and white offset of this image but the color screenprint does not appear to have been finished.
I personally find this image compelling with the portraits that are captured like deer in the headlights. I presume this is a reference to the world during the beginnings of WWII. The portraits seem to depict a broad scope; a king, a soldier, a woman, a man and another uniformed person.
Here is a link to the work on our Website where more information is available: http://www.annexgalleries.com/inventory/detail/18206/Abraham-Rattner/Among-Those-Who-Stood-There
And a link to the other Rattner prints on our site: http://www.annexgalleries.com/inventory?q=rattner