ILLINOIS HISTORICAL ART PROJECT
FRANK SOHN was born in Columbus, Indiana, on July 24, 1888, and has studied privately with several artists. His outstanding teachers were Irving Manoir, Frederic M. Grant and Anthony Angarola. He has made many crayon sketches in France and Belgium and in various parts of the United States, is a member of the Association of Arts and Industries and the Chicago Chapter of Audac (American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen) and has exhibited in the Hoosier Salon, the Metropolitan Museum, the Boston Museum, the St. Louis Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Arts Club of Chicago and the Buffalo Academy of Art. A decorative panel of1 his, in vitrolite, was awarded second prize in an industrial art exposition at the Buffalo Academy of Art. His work has been written about in the Chicago Daily News (by Robert D. Andrews)-also in the Chicago Evening Post and in trade journals.
Since childhood, I have been one of those nuisances obsessed with the urge to draw. This, combined with a practical bent, led me to take up architecture and later on the designing of industrial products. A spell of sketching fever contracted on the Mexican border broke out with renewed vigor during service in France, especially after the Armistice during a tour over France and Belgium as a chalk talk performer in an army show, followed by a few weeks' attendance at the A. E. F. Art School near Paris where Harry Lachman got me started in painting. After returning to industrial design the encouragement of Rudolph Weisenborn and contact with Neo-Arlimusc led to renewed efforts at painting and occasional attendance at classes of Fred Grant, Irving Manoir and Anthony Angarola. During the last two years, painting has dominated my spare time and I am just beginning to see daylight. I feel that composition in the abstract involving dynamic reactions of texture, movement, color and value is a higher type of art activity than the representational. I have worked along these lines in decorative glass panels and expect to explore the realm of the abstract to its furthermost recesses later on. Color interests me as a means whereby to bring out shape, as an element of composition, and as a means of making parts of the picture vibrate. Particularly significant to me, because of its part in the evolution of modern painting, has been the work of Cazin, Monet, Guillaumin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Braque, and especially Kandinsky. I have tried, however, to steer clear of any personal influence and have found myself attracted by certain subjects such as building operations, city views contrasting the old with the new, signscapes, Chicago alleys and small town stores. This attraction is due not so much to the subjects but rather to the fact that they provide the kind of abstract color and shape contrasts, with a touch of humor added, that give me anesthetic thrill. It is this I should like to fix on canvas in the hope that others may enjoy it as I do. Frank Sohn.