Medium: Oil on panel
Signature: Signed lower left
38.5 in. h. x 43.5 in. w., panel
48.25 in. h. x 53.25 in. w., as framed
After studying under Paul Travis of the Cleveland School of Art, Raphael Gleitsmann returned to his hometown of Akron, Ohio, to pursue a career as an artist–just as the Great Depression was taking its hold on Middle America. Working in a Precisionist style, he painted both industrial and rural landscapes in Akronand its surrounding regions. Through dark, dramatic lighting, his almost photographic imagery often suggests alienation, influenced by his own temperament, but also by the nation’s travails during the Depression and the onset of World War II.
Gleitsmann painted House at Sunset, Medina County around 1941, the year the United States entered World War II. The meticulously rendered Victorian house stands silhouetted against a luminous twilight sky. Surrounded by a barren winter landscape, the house shows almost no signs of habitation except for the one light shining from a second-story window. Even the telephone pole, normally a sign of industry and connection, stands alone in Gleitsmann’s view, detached from the wires that would facilitate communication with the outside world. Over the years that followed, Gleitsmann commonly painted sunsets and winter views, with stark telephone poles and barren branches casting dramatic shadows and silhouettes. These forms may suggest the physical pain and intense emotions that he experienced as a result of severe injury during the war.1
1 During World War II Gleitsmann served briefly at the German front before being injured by a piece of shrapnel. He would seek to work out his pain, both physical and emotional, from his war experience in his art, as he continually drew on themes of barren land and cityscapes.
Written by Julie Novarese Pierotti for Modern Dialect: American Paintings from the John and Susan Horseman Collection in 2012, last updated 06/26/2018
The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH, The Pageant of Ohio Painters, April 4-30, 1967, cat. no. 32, as The House.
The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH, Raphael Gleitsmann: Paintings 1934-1954, March 7-28, 1971.
Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Modern Dialect: American Paintings from the John and Susan Horseman Collection,
April 27-July 15, 2012, traveled to Westmoreland Museum of American
Art, Greensburg, PA, August 12-November 4, 2012; Springfield Art Museum,
Springfield, MA, December 2, 2012-February 24, 2013; Columbus Museum of
Art, Columbus, OH, March 24- June 16, 2013; Flint Institute of Arts,
Flint, MI, July 14-September 22, 2013; Cummer Museum of Art,
Jacksonville, FL, November 2, 2013- January 26, 2014.
M. Grumbacher advertisement, Magazine of Art 34 (October 1941), p. 44, ill.
Clyde Singer, “City Included in Butler ‘Pageant’,” Youngstown Vindicator, April 1967.
Butler Institute of American Art, Pageant of Ohio Painters, (Youngstown, OH: Butler Institute of American Art), n.p.
Julie Novarese Pierotti, Modern Dialect: American Paintings from the John and Susan Horseman Collection (Chicago: Studio Blue, 2012), p. 56, ill.
Type of Work: Paintings
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