Subway

eichenbergsubway

Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990), Subway, 1934, wood engraving, signed and titled in pencil bottom margin. From the edition of 200. In excellent condition, with full margins, on a cream wove paper with the FRANCE watermark. 6 1/4 x 4 3/4 inches, the sheet 12 x 9. Archival mounting.

A fine fresh impression.

Fritz Eichenberg was born in Cologne where he first studied art; he later became a roving artist and reporter in Berlin, where he worked until 1933, when he immigrated to New York City. He taught at the New School, worked in the Federal Art Project, and eventually became Chairman of the Graphic Arts Department at Pratt.

A master of wood engraving and lithography, Eichenberg illustrated many books, and wrote a number of classic works on printmaking history and technique, including the influential The Art of the Print and The Wood and the Graver.

In The Subway Eichenberg gives us a portrait of people on the Seventh Avenue IRT line – the express train – which travels from Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, winds its way through downtown Manhattan, up Manhattan’s West Side and through Harlem, and eventually reaches The Bronx.

This is one of four early, self-published wood engravings representing Fritz Eichenberg’s first impressions of New York City as an immigrant in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression. He recalls the period …”exciting safaris into downtown Manhattan, my first ride on the infernal Seventh Avenue Subway, observations of life on the stoops and fire escapes of little Italy, in the streets of Harlem and Williamsburg, visits to the Aquarium and the speakeasies, and the sight of the ominous breadlines of the Bowery…”

Much as in 1933, today New York’s  Seventh Avenue IRT line express train travels through Brooklyn, crosses over to Manhattan, and eventually reaches The Bronx.