Thursday, January 28, 2021
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Monday, January 25, 2021
Sunday, January 24, 2021
By 1939 Esther Geller was engaged to a military gentlemen named Chester Susskind. In 1940, Chester went off to war...and never came back...or so they thought. There were plenty of admirers and studio parties left in the Boston area. Harold Shapero had been declared unfit for military service ("4F") due to emotional instability.
Meanwhile, Esther was not just having fun at the Museum School. She was a member of an elite group under the direction of Karl Zerbe, a German immigrant who was bringing back the thousands-year-old painting medium of encaustic. This medium had been used in memorial portraits due to its durability. Encaustic is pure pigment mixed with beeswax strengthened with natural resin. Zerbe used this highly technical means to create paintings with gloomy ethnic and surrealistic themes, influenced by the horrors of war.
Esther continued to paint in encaustic and refine her work in the early 40s. She created floating waves and humanoid creatures whose limbs seemed made out of tangles or sheaves of plant roots. I call them her "Root People" and there are dozens and dozens of them, including watercolors as well. Zerbe's encaustics inspired black shadows and eerie moods which Esther would soon transcend.
Meanwhile, Harold, who graduated from Harvard in 1941, still was friendly with Esther. He wrote some of his best music when he was still at Harvard, such as his "Sonata for Piano Four Hands," or his "String Quartet." Esther painted Root People up until the mid-1940s.
"Dancing Family," encaustic, early 1940s
Saturday, January 23, 2021
Friday, January 22, 2021