Monday, September 5, 2011

THE ART of STEVAN DOHANOS (1907 - 1994)

The work that propelled STEVAN DOHANOS (1907-1994) to household name status was the long series of Saturday Evening Post covers he painted during the 1940s and 50s, showing slices of American life. This body of work invites comparison with Norman Rockwell, but this should be resisted; that his characterizations weren't as sympathetic as Rockwell's is missing the point.

Dohanos focused on the location and trappings of the American Dream, not those who populated it. His cooler, more objective view of society places his work closer in spirit to Edward Hopper than Norman Rockwell.

Whether the setting is an ice-cream stand, a newly suped-up motorcycle in the driveway, a gas station attendant inflating a goofy toy, or in this picture, a mobile home complete with pink flamingo, Dohanos glorified the magnificent and absurd rituals and fetish-objects of post-war American life.

As the most widely followed exponent of American popular culture (before television shows took over that function), The Saturday Evening Post had great power. Their regular publication of Dohanos images on its covers was equivalent to his appointment as a cultural spokesman.

In the 1960s, after the Post ceased to show art on its covers, Dohanos moved to a comparable position: chairman of the National Stamp Advisory Committee to select art for postage stamps. He also began to paint still-lifes - not so much apples or peppers, but decoys, weathervanes, and hydrants - his beloved, culturally resonant American objects.      




Wood Engraving


No comments:

Post a Comment