January 10, 2014

Granaries by Spencer

        Here’s another artist I can’t find much about, but whose work pleases me greatly.  (Yet more confirmation that good art and art world fame are not synonymous.)  What I can discover about Jim Edd Spencer (c. 1905-1944) is that he was from Kansas City , and his primary work consisted of linoleum block prints of Kansas City and Independence, Missouri.  The Kansas City Public Library apparently has a collection of his work, but it isn’t digitized for me to look at on-line, much to my disappointment.  The few pieces of his that I did come across I like very much.
        Here are two pieces from a series on granaries that apparently had at least 11 prints.  I like the mix of black and white and texture; I like the swooping lines of the sky behind the straighter lines of the architecture; I like the mix of black outlines and white outlines; I like the slightly whimsical quality to the shapes that I’d expect to be stark and severe.
        You can see that Spencer fits into that Depression-era style in which so many artists created block prints between the two world wars, but Jim Edd Spencer definitely has his own, charming style to contribute and I wish more of his work were in the public eye.  Perhaps he never made very much -- after all, he died pretty young.  Still, he’s another artist who deserves more appreciation.

[Pictures: Granary 1, linoleum cut by Jim Edd Spencer, 1934;
Granary 2. linoleum cut by Spencer, 1934 (Images from 1718 Holly Street).]

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