Albert Gold (1916-2006)
Oil on board, 33 x 45 1/4 inches. Signed lower left: "Albert Gold"
Vose ArtNotes, Fall 2006, p. 32.
Coming Home: American Paintings, 1930-1950, from the Schoen Collection, pp. 148-151; Albert Gold: American Scene Artist of the 1930s and 1940s (D. Wigmore Fine Art, 1991); Looking at Life: Albert Gold (Philadelphia Art Alliance, 1996); Friedman, Marvin, "Family Matters: Good as Gold," Hadassah Magazine, March, 2008.
Shannon's Fine Art Auctioneers, April 28, 2005, lot 36; Vose Galleries LLC, Boston, MA; acquired from the foregoing, September 8, 2017.
Original 3 1/2-inch dark stained oak frame with 1 1/4-inch gold liner.
Fig. 1 - Albert Gold, Carousel, undated, watercolor, 20 x 27 inches (present whereabouts unknown).
Fig. 2 - Albert Gold, Merry Go Round, 1939, lithograph, 17 x 20 1/4 inches, The Sigmund R. Balka Collection at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum.
Fig. 3 - Albert Gold, Carousel, c. 1939, photograph. Collection of the family of the artist.
Raised in a nurturing Jewish household in North Philadelphia, Albert Gold spent countless hours as a teenager sketching earnestly on the city’s streets and along its waterfronts. After graduating high school, he received a scholarship from the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now the University of the Arts), earning a bachelor’s degree in 1938. He then embarked upon a fruitful career as painter, printmaker, illustrator and teacher that would span the next sixty-eight years.
Gold’s favorite subjects were the people he observed on a daily basis in and around Philadelphia—at work, at play, at the lunch counters, in the markets, in their homes and neighborhoods. The artist was sensitive, especially during the Depression years, to the plight of the poor and unemployed, and was particularly attuned to his city’s African-American residents. By age 25, he’d already shown his work at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Corcoran Gallery, the 1939 World’s Fair, Art Institute of Chicago and National Academy of Design, among other leading venues. In 1942, he was awarded the prestigious Prix de Rome by the American Academy in Rome for his painting of three circus cooks at work. Drafted into the Army later that year, he served three years as a World War II combat artist in the European theater. Gold taught at the Philadelphia Museum School from 1946 to 1985, the Fleisher School in Philadelphia from 1947 to 1965, and Pyle Studio in Delaware from 1956 to 1962. The recipient of countless awards, he was honored with solo exhibitions at such venues as the Musée Galliera in Paris, the Philadelphia Art Alliance and Woodmere Art Museum in Pennsylvania. Gold’s work is included in the collections of over a dozen museums and public institutions, including the Fogg Art Museum, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Institution.
Carousel is one of a number of paintings and lithographs by Gold featuring people at work or play at circuses, carnivals and fairgrounds, among the most popular amusements for children and adults during the turbulent Thirties and Forties. Four children astride large, white carousel horses are depicted from behind as they ride a merry go round within a midway. The carousel is wedged between other rides and by the trailers that store and transport the components of a traveling circus or fair. Like almost all of Gold’s works, the scene appears unstaged: the artist seems to have captured a fleeting moment without the conscious participation of his subjects. In reality, the composition is based on a photograph (Fig. 3) recently discovered in the artist’s archives. Gold simplified the scene, eliminating or repositioning figures and other elements to achieve balance and eliminate distraction (he removed the patterning from the gate in the left foreground, for example, and moderated the profusion of poles attributable to unseen carousel figures). The artist also unified the composition by judicious use of color: the red and orange of the trailers on the right third of the canvas are echoed by the use of similar colors on details appearing on the left.
Although the precise venue is uncertain, Gold is known to have painted various scenes at the Great Allentown Fair in Pennsylvania, one of the oldest continuously operating annual fairs in the country. This is the largest of three known versions of this work (the other two are watercolors, one of which is shown in Fig. 1) and although undated, may relate to several watercolors and lithographs (two dated 1939 and others specifically ascribed to the Allentown Fair) depicting workers and fairgoers behind the scenes at a fairground.