ILLINOIS HISTORICAL ART PROJECT
WILLIAM SAMUEL SCHWARTZ
WILLIAM S. SCHWARTZ was born at Smorgon, Russia, on February 23, 1896, and studied at a Vilna art school and the Art Institute of Chicago. His outstanding teachers were Ivan Trutnev and Karl A. Buehr. He has painted in Russia and in various parts of the United States, has participated in many national and international exhibitions in the United States and Canada, and has had one-artist shows in leading American galleries and museums. The following awards have been won by him: the First Albert Kahn Prize in Detroit in 1925, the Temple Beth El Sisterhood First Prize in Detroit in 1926, the Marshall Fuller Holmes Prize at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1927, the M. V. Kohnstamm Prize at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1928 and the John C. Shafer Prize at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1930. He is represented in the permanent collections of the Chicago Public Schools, the Dallas Public Art Gallery, the University of Nebraska, the Cincinnati Public Library, the University of Missouri, the Madison Art Association and the Davenport Municipal Gallery. His work has been written about in "William S. Schwartz, A Study," by Manuel Chapman (L. M. Stein); Delphian Text, Vol. 5, by Dudley Crafts Watson; Creative Art, December, 1931, by William Schack; The Chicagoan, August, 1929, by J. Z. Jacobson; The Reflex, June, 1930, by S. P. Rudens; "History and Ideals of American Arts," by E. Heuhaus; Chicago Evening Post, October, 1930, by C. J. Bulliet; The Forge, by Nickolas John Matsoukas; and The Modern View, January, 1931, by Estelle Asckenasy.
I have been asked to make a statement as to the aims and significance of my work. I feel that all that should be implicit in the work itself. But since an explanation of all this, an explanation in words, seems to be required, I shall use for that pt1rpose a brief statement by one whose medium is writing and who understands what I am trying to achieve in my art. I shall, in other words, let Lawrence Lipton speak for me and fulfill the present requirement, as follows: To say that the mind of William S. Schwartz is eclectic, that he reads widely in the sciences, history and literature and keeps abreast of all the latest trends in art and art criticism is to explain much that appears in his art. He is a musician, a vocal artist of recognized talent. His intellectual temper might be described as one of passionate cerebration. Such a mind ranges far. Already Schwartz has passed through three clearly definable phases and is now in what may prove to be a fourth. During the first phase his work was marked by an introspective study of self. This quest of the authentic "self" was characterized, in treatment, by a tireless discipline of experiment with color and design, by the use of sensuous color and the complete absence of white. In the second phase interest shifted to what Manuel Chapman called "object or not-self." The external world, three dimensional form, became Schwartz's ruling interest. The artist's objective in his third phase was to combine subject and object into a kind of graphic realism, a realism of inner truth rather than realism of surfaces. Not impressions, but reconstructions. Translating reality into the peculiar language of line, form and color, yet still retaining the illusion of "natural" reality, of surfaces. Looking at a Schwartz portrait of this period is like looking not merely at the subject but through the subject. Music has always run through Schwartz's art. In his latest work it becomes basic. In these canvases he does not abandon subject; he extracts from all possible subjects-figures, trees, clouds. mountains, planets-their essential forms and uses them to picture the visual content of the mind during the composition of music. It is the pictography of musical sensation. Lawrence Lipton.