Armin Landeck (1905–1984), Rooftop, 14th Street

Posted on July 21st, 2014 by

Rooftop, 14th StreetArmin Landeck (1905–1984)
Rooftop, 14th Street, 1946
Engraving on paper, 8 5⁄8 x 14 inches
Hillstrom Museum of Art purchase with endowment acquisition funds

Landeck, born in Wisconsin, studied architecture at Columbia University in New York, earning a degree in 1927, the same year he studied painting at the Art Students League. Also that year he began making prints, the medium for which he is best known. Although he intended to make a career in architecture, the Depression made this difficult and he decided instead to devote himself to printmaking as a profession. In 1934 and 1935, he helped operate The School for Printmakers, which he founded with his close friend Martin Lewis (1881–1962) and the respected printer George Miller. Many of Landeck’s prints were abstracted, architectural images based on New York City, as in this engraving of rooftops in the area around 14th Street. The detailed building in the background, with its prominent clock tower topped with a lantern atop a colonnaded support, is the Con Edison Building, a local landmark located on East 14th Street. This provides a note of specificity in an otherwise generalized image of geometrical, architectural form. As the print shows, the artist was masterful in his ability to create strong shapes, with a variety of bold and subtle textures. This can be seen in the contrast between the very dark lines of the skylight mullions at the right, and the ghostly remnant images of demolished structures that can be seen on the wall of the next building over, in the print’s left side. Landeck was influenced in his approach by the works of Martin Lewis, whose prints are somewhat similar in their reliance on solidly formed structure for their setting, though unlike Lewis’s works, Landeck’s are typically unpopulated by people, giving them a colder, less human quality. Landeck was also influenced by the starkness in the works of Edward Hopper (1882–1967).

Text from the catalogue for the exhibition The Eight, The Ashcan School, and The American Scene in the Hillstrom Collection, presented in the Hillstrom Museum of Art February 25 through April 21, 2013.

 

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