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Henry Elinson's Dow Jones Industrial Art

Celebrating the inauguration of the Center for Russian Culture at Amherst College, the Mead Art Museum and the CRC Gallery are presenting exhibitions of pastels and drawings by the Russian emigre artist, Henry Elinson. The exhihition at the Mead Art Museum features the pastel series "Dow Jones Industrial Art" and the drawing series "Homage to Bruno Schulz," on view from October 2 through December 18, 1998. At the Center for Russian Culture Gallery, the pastel series "Visions of Italy" and other drawings will be displayed beginning October 26, 1998.

Right: Henry Elinson, Midas Touch, pastel on paper

Elinson produces drawings and brilliant pastels motivated by his personal visions, dreams, and hallucinations. Born in St. Petersburg in 1934, he trained as a philologist and became a speech therapist to subsidize his artistic output. Forbidden by the Soviets to exhibit his modernist art (deemed bourgeois and decadent, tainted by Westeno art concepts), Elinson showed his work illegally in underground exhibitions sponsored by dissident groups during the 1950s and 60s.

Fleeing a regime where the government "washes your brain and murders your soul" he left the Soviet Union in 1973 as one of the several thousand Jews permitted exit visas. He lived briefly in Italy, a sojourn chronicled in the vivid, autobiographical pastel series "Visions of Italy," and then emigrated to the United States in 1974. In his monumental pastel series from the 1990s, Elinson utilizes the pastel medium in a non-traditional way, exploring its potential for intense color and the interplay of rich, layered surfaces.

Compositions which combine human forms and schematic drawing reflect his admiration for Constructivism, the pure geometric abstraction pioneered by Russian artists in the early 20th century. The untitled diagrams and figured works which comprise "Dow Jones Industrial Art" offer an outsider's view of American commerce, at once admiring and critical. In some, such as "King Midas" and "Golden Calf" Elinson blends biblical, mythological and pop culture references to produce icons of a Western capitalist religion. The ink drawing series, "Homage to Bruno Schulz" is dedicated to the Polish-Jewish writer and artist who perished in the Holocaust. Schulz' letters, like Elinson's work, reveal the artist's inner tensions and strugles when creativity is compromised by difficult external circumstances and emotional turmoil.

The exhibitions and lecture are free and open to the public, made possibie by support provided by the Hall and Kate Peterson Fund of the Mead Art Museum and the Suzanne and Lawrence Weiss (Class of 1962) Fund of the Center for Russian Culture. The Mead Art Museum and Center for Russian Culture (Webster Hall) are located on the campus of Amherst College, at the intersection of Route 9 and Route 116. For inquiries regarding the Center for Russian Culture, please call 413/542-2350.

Hours: Academic Year (Labor Day through Commencement) Weekdays 10 - 4:30; Thursdays open until 9; Weekends 1 - 5. Summer (Reunion through Labor Day) Tuesday - Sunday 1 - 4. The museum is closed on selected college holidays. Hours are extended on family, commencement, and alumni weekends.

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rev. 11/22/10

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