Design for America #2


Benton Spruance (1904-1967), Design for America #2, lithograph, 1935, signed, numbered, and titled in pencil lower margin. In excellent condition. Reference: Fine/Looney 18.

A fine impression of this iconic subject, an early modernist example of Spruance’s exquisite lithographic technique.

Spruance was born in Philadelphia in 1904 and was educated in local schools. He studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Graphic Sketch Club. In both his junior and his senior year at the Academy, he won the William Emlen Cresson Travelling Scholarship, which enabled him to go to France. In Paris he tried his hand at lithography for the first time at the studio of Jacques and Edmond Desjobert. On his return to Philadelphia he decided to focus on lithography, working with the printer Theodore Cuno.

Spruance’s works can be found in the collections of the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Carnegie Institute. The memorial collection of his work now in the Free Library of Philadelphia was established in 1968 by Emerson Greenaway, then director of the Free Library and a close friend of Benton Spruance. It is composed of more than 450 of his prints, studies for paintings and prints, color separations, photographs and memorabilia.