Unorthodox: Morris Hirshfield and Modern Art in the 1940s
A lecture by Richard Meyer, Stanford University
Thursday, April 9 at 6:30pm
Stone Auditorium, Room 210, Woldenberg Art Center, Uptown Campus
Please join us for a lecture by Richard Meyer, Professor of Art History at Stanford University, who will speak on Morris Hirshfield and Modern Art in the 1940s. The lecture is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.
A tailor, slipper manufacturer, and Orthodox Jew, the self-taught artist Morris Hirshfield created a series of female nudes and animal paintings that were exhibited in a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1943. Widely ridiculed by critics, the Hirshfield exhibition contributed to the firing of Alfred Barr as the museum’s director that same year.
This paper considers the strange visual logic of Hirshfield’s paintings and the critical scorn they attracted when shown at MOMA. Hirshfield was referred to as “The Master of the Two Left Feet” in the press because of his penchant for depicting the female body in that fashion. In his lecture, Meyer will suggest that several forms of confusion (between right and left, back and front, fantasy and reality, figuration and decoration) structured both Hirshfield’s paintings and their critical reception in the 1940s.