Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gregory Masurovsky 1929-2009

The printmaker and typographer Gregory Masurovsky was born in the Bronx on 26 November 1929, and has died in Paris on 17 July 2009. Masurovsky studied at Black Mountain College (where a number of teachers from the Bauhaus had ended up) and at the Art Students' League in New York. He had lived in Paris since 1954. In France he was particularly celebrated for his 40-year collaboration with the writer Michel Butor on a series of projects, celebrated in an exhibition at the Musée de Pontoise in 2004, "La Plume et la Crayon". Many of Gregory Masurovsky's etchings were published in New York by Sylvan Cole at Associated American Artists, including the one below, which is one of seven delicate etchings made to accompany poems by Carl Sandburg in 1970. It was printed by Atelier Georges Leblanc on B.F.K. Rives, pencil-signed and justified by the artist, one of 150 copies thus out of a total edition of 190.

Gregory Masurovsky, Fog
Etching, 1970


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Carl Sandburg
from Chicago Poems, 1916


Philip Wilkinson said...

Interesting that Eliot's Prufrock, which I think came out at around about the same time as this poem, also contains a feline image for fog.

Jane said...

It would be interesting to know what brought him to Paris. From Robert Frost to Michel Butor is quite a leap, poetically pseaking.

Neil said...

Yes, "the yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes" - wonderful, isn't it? I suppose Imagism was in the air.

Neil said...

Jane, I can give you an answer to your question, thanks to the informative biography of Gregory Masurovsky on the Black Mountain College Project website. In 1953 he married Shirley Goldfarb. "In May 1954, the Masurovskys decided on a whim to use their meager savings for a visit to Paris. Their first night was spent talking to other artists in the cafes of Montparnasse. Early morning, they walked through the Luxembourg Gardens and knew that Paris would become their home." And like Norman Rubington (see my next post), Masurovsky was able to support himself in Paris on the G. I. Bill (he was too young for WWII, but served as a medic in the Korean War).

Roxana said...

what a perfect post. and now i have to think about what seems to be rooted in some kind of psychic archetype, this cat-fog image, so startling and persistent.

Neil said...

I suppose it's the stealthiness and subtle invasiveness of fog that invites the comparison - though in my experience cats are not very keen on fog, or any weather that is wet and clammy.

Marc Masurovsky said...

Regarding Gregory Masurovsky's one-way escapade to Paris in 1954, I can fill you on some details...being his son...My parents--Shirley Goldfarb and Gregory Masurovsky--had not really had a honeymoon to speak of, being completely and thoroughly broke as budding artists in New York. My mother and my father shared at least one idea: getting as far away from their families as possible for very different reasons. Since my mother was the dominant element in the relationship, she convinced my father to spend most of his meager savings on a one-way boat ride to France. Alerting their families at the last minute, their own relatives scrambled to wave goodbye from the pier as they sailed away. Et voila!

Neil said...

Thanks so much for this inside account, Marc. I think Paris seemed irresistible to young artists at this time. I'm not sure what happened with exchange rates after WWII, but certainly after WWI the franc plummeted against the dollar, making France incredibly cheap for Americans, so that artists living on a shoestring could have a much more exciting and vibrant existence.