Gestural drawing of a Klezmer musician playing a flute. This is a wonderful drawing by one of America's most treasured artists, Chaim Gross. Throughout his lifetime Gross has gone through tragedy and a real test of faith however, he has the unique ability to focus and direct his expression to the most joyful and beautiful works of art, such as the present lot. For more than sixty years Chaim Gross's art has expressed optimistic, affirming themes. His acrobats, cyclists, and mothers and children convey joyfulness, exuberance, love, and intimacy. This aspect of his work remained consistent with his Hasidic heritage, which teaches that "only in his childlike happiness is man nearest to God." Chaim Gross, born in Wolowa, Austria in 1904, was educated at the Beaux Arts Institute of Design and at the Art Student's League in New York. Chaim Gross's work was greatly influenced by his experiences during a period of international conflict, World War II. He had moved to Kolomyya from Wolowa to get a better education, but the Germans came to occupy, killing, raping, and looting. Gross and his family were chased from one village to the next. He wrote, "We were sleeping on roofs and in the fields, with the sound of cannon fire always in the distance,". Eventually, he ended up in Budapest with his two brothers, where antiSemitism was not as severe, and that is where he began to sculpt and draw. He even had a few odd jobs there as a gold and silversmith. When he was seventeen, Gross immigrated to America where his older brother was. There he was a student and then a teacher at the Educational Alliance on the Lower East Side. Teaching became a big part of his philosophy, as he believed that an artist must pass on the knowledge which he had received from others in his artwork. Chaim Gross works reflect his Jewish and Austrian roots and his Hasidic Jewish upbringing. The figures in his art reflect the Hasidic spirit of being happy and making other people happy. In his pieces, Jews sing and dance in celebration of the Jewish Sabbath and festivals. They are shown rejoicing in the great gifts of love and life. Chaim Gross was honored with a number of prestigious awards including: the Award of Merit Medal from the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1963, and the Gold Medal award from the National Academy of Design in 1985. He often used his creative abilities to explore and experiment with media. In his artwork he retains an optimistic philosophy, even when facing somber issues such as war, depression, and the Holocaust. He is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel.
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