Monday, October 30, 2006
Morris Hirshfield's "Overnight" Success
"Morris Hirshfield came to the United States from eastern Europe at the age of 18. Like many other Jewish immigrants of this period, he found work in the garment industry, at first in a women's coat factory. Hirshfield soon opened his own coat factory with his brother, but after 12 years, they started a new company, the EZ Walk Manufacturing Company, which made women's "boudoir slippers," as Hirshfield called them. This business operated with great success until Hirshfield became ill and then retired.
In 1937, at the age of 65, Hirshfield began to paint, much to the bewilderment of his wife and family. The subjects he was immediately drawn to were women, animals, and occasionally themes from his Jewish heritage.
A record of Hirshfield's life and career as an artist was written by Hirshfield himself for Sidney Janis's 1942 book They Taught Themselves. Janis had come upon Hirshfield's paintings a few years earlier while organizing an exhibition called "Contemporary Unknown American Painters" for the Museum of Modern Art. Upon seeing Hirshfield's Angora Cat, he immediately included work from the new artist in the exhibition.
In 1941 Hirshfield was given a one-man exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art that included 30 paintings."
I love Morris Hirshfield. To think it only took him 4 years to have the show of a lifetime at MOMA with the 30 paintings he had done up until that point. He completed only 77 works of art before his death- 9 years after he started painting.