Amalia Ludwig Figurative Painting - AT THE CAROUSEL
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Amalia Ludwig



AMALIA LUDWIG "AT THE CAROUSEL" OIL ON ON CANVAS LAID DOWN, ESTATE STAMPED AMERICAN, C.1940 19.75 X 13.25 INCHES Amalia Ludwig 1889-1978 Amalia Ludwig was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1889. She attended the Columbus Art School where she met her future husband, the artist Gar Sparks with whom in 1911 she moved to New York City to attend the Art Student League League on a scholarship. Soon afterward they moved to Newark, New Jersey and then in 1926 to nearby East Orange where they remained for the rest of their lives. They were good friends of Stuart Davis and Marcel Duchamps. Dream imagery, mist-infused atmosphere, expansive landscapes and nudes or figures are among the commonly found elements in the paintings of Amalia Ludwig as well as Gar Sparks. Their subjects often seem preoccupied with other places or times. Sometimes these figures or their surroundings have a classical ambiance as manifested by statuary or architecture and the expansive compositional order of the images or figures, as if they were symbols, often mysterious, of societal mores, behavior and institutions, the significance of which is often perplexing and provocative. Ludwig often depicted incongruous images that appeal to the subconscious. Her paintings have a sense of enigmatic quietude. They speak to us without dynamism, passion or cognitive clarity. There is a longing for something more or for a return to a lost place or state of mind. They often seem immersed in a subtle time warp. It could be said that Ludwig was involved in the graphic exploration and depiction of the "Art of the mind." The serenity expressed in her artwork is more than occasionally other-worldly and/or remote. In keeping with a surrealist impetus, her images appear to come from an uncensored source without moral or rational editing. Ludwig created a world that is intriguing, genuine and evocative. Ludwig and Sparks spoke of their work as being described by others as imaginative but there is no evidence that they called their work surrealist. In the 30s and 40s the term surrealism was not yet much used outside of esoteric surrealist art and literary circles and one that Sparks & Ludwig may not ever have used to describe their work. What they produced was without a doctrinaire, surrealist philosophical intent, as was true of other of the more known surrealists in the 1930s and 1940s. However, Ludwig and Sparks created paintings that later could or would be properly considered surrealist in nature. The paintings of Amalia Ludwig fall mainly into two somewhat overlapping spheres of surrealism: what may be called primitive surrealism and objective surrealism. In the case of the former she paints more loosely, more broadly, more purely and more simply, perhaps paralleling a more amorphous, more general, less defined state of unconscious mind or dream state. In the case of objective surrealism she paints more tightly, more complexly, more realistically, paralleling, it seems, a more defined and more clearly depicted yet enigmatic state of the unconscious mind or dream state. A close look at Ludwig's work shows that her cerebral iconography is cogent, wide-ranging and provocative. It has a deep sense of authenticity. Her earlier works often display modest detail and finesse. They also have broader structure than her later work. They resemble a slightly surreal version of Marsden Hartley. Her works from the late 1930s through the 1960s exude a deeper, more personal, mysterious element. It is worth noting that Amalia Ludwig was among the first American women surrealists. The two most famous American women surrealist painters in the 1930s and 1940s were Kay Sage and Dorothy Tanning, married to Ives Tanguy and Max Ernst, respectively. The virtuosity, integrity and quality demonstrated by Tanning and Sage are undeniable and now are matters of history. It is also undeniable that Tanguy and Ernst were major international innovators of surrealism and this could not but help elevate their wives profiles, careers and legacies far beyond the relative obscurity to which Ludwig had and has been relegated. Ludwig exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair. Her work was shown regularly by Rabin & Krueger Gallery in Newark and at Newark Museum exhibitions in 1948, 1952, 1955 and 1965. She was represented by the ACA Gallery in New York. She died in East Orange, New Jersey in 1978.


  • Artist
    Amalia Ludwig (1889 - 1978, American)
  • Creation Year
  • Condition
  • Dimensions
    H 19.75 in. x W 13.25 in.H 50.17 cm x W 33.66 cm
  • Gallery Location
    Los Angeles, CA
  • Reference Number
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