Nicolai Cikovsky (1894–1984), Market Wagons Posted on July 21st, 2014 by

Market WagonsNicolai Cikovsky (1894–1984)
Market Wagons, 1930s
Ink and ink wash on paper, 14 x 17 15⁄16 inches
Gift of the Reverend Richard L. Hillstrom

Cikovsky was born in Pinsk, then part of Russia but now part of Belarus. His early training in art included study at the Moscow High Technical Art Institute from 1921 to 1923 after which he left the Soviet Union and moved to America. Cikovsky was known for his painting and draftsmanship, as well as for his printmaking. He was also influential as an art teacher, teaching at the St. Paul School of Art, the Cincinnati Art Academy, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Students League in New York, and at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C. Among his works were murals done as part of the WPA effort, in post offices in Maryland and in the Department of the Interior in Washington. This drawing dates to when Cikovsky lived in New York City, and his son, Nicolai Cikovsky Jr., the respected historian of American art, has suggested it dates from the 1930s. It depicts several figures grouped around the market wagons of the title, in an urban setting that may be New York, the locale of a number of his works. Cikovsky wrote that he was uninterested in the spectacular or sensational, preferring intimate subjects for his art, including images of the City. In this work he used the City as a backdrop, with the produce-laden wagons in the center ground. In the foreground—and in the center of the composition—he placed a female figure who is holding what appears to perhaps be a bag, possibly filled with produce. This figure seems lost in her own thoughts, and there is a sense of isolation in most of the figures shown in the drawing that ties the approach to that of other Realist artists, such as Edward Hopper (1882–1967), with whom Cikovsky is sometimes associated.

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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