EMANUEL SCHARY Israel, b. 1924, d. 1994 A lively affection for humanity characterizes the work of the Israeli-American artist Emanuel Schary (1924-1994). Working in a range of media, Schary celebrated the strength and beauty of ordinary characters. Born not far from Tel Aviv, Schary emigrated to his father's country, the United States, at the age of 16. The war interrupted his plans to attend college. Schary also learned, to his surprise, that he was eligible for the draft. Upon his return from tank-driving in Europe, Schary used the G.I. bill to resume his college plans. For five years he attended the Carnegie School of Fine Arts in Pittsburgh, and then moved to New York to study at Pratt and the Art Students League. In New York, the talented draughtsman took a plum advertising illustration job. It wasn't until 20 years later, at 44, that Schary could leave his advertising career to make art his living. The illustrative nature of his work, the cheerful people and the focus on character have led others to call Schary the Jewish Norman Rockwell. Both Schary and Rockwell, and the body of American illustrators they derive from, exhibit an optimistic confidence in their protagonists. All of this, the fondness for the subject and the care in drawing, reflects the affinity Schary felt for the portraitists of the Italian Renaissance. It is to those painters, like Ghirlandaio and Perugino, that Schary and his peers in illustration owe the suffusion of light creating vividly descriptive color. Schary's Second Avenue Deli, in which a smiling coachman's glance invites viewers into a cheerful world of candied brilliance, demonstrates the artist's interest in clean, clear light and jewel-like color. His mindfulness of tradition extended to his subject matter as well. Schary's main themes are the history of Israel and of Jewish New York. Sometimes at prayer, sometimes at work, his subjects are always appealing. So, too, is their setting. The old friends comfortably laughing with each other in the serigraph "Orchard Street" are set within a meticulously realized vision of 1970s New York. Schary's affection for both people and city is apparent. At Schary's death, many important institutions, including the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, owned works by him. Schary's works remain popular because of their happy vision of the past; they remain significant because of their quality and dedication to tradition.
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