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The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2021

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FEB 2021 Issue
The Miraculous The Miraculous: New York

38. (Williamsburg, Pier 88)

In July 1937, the government declares that all artists employed by the Works Progress Administration must be citizens of the United States. Among the people who are thus disqualified from receiving aid are two young painters, one from Russia, the other from Holland. Years later, the Dutch-born artist, who had worked on two mural projects (the Williamsburg Houses in Brooklyn and the French Line Pier on the Hudson River) recalled that the WPA “was terribly important. It gave us enough to live on and we could paint what we wanted. … I had to resign after a year because I was an alien, but even in that short time, I changed my attitude toward being an artist. Instead of doing odd jobs and painting on the side, I painted and did odd jobs on the side. My life was the same, but I had a different view of it. I gave up the idea of first making a fortune and then painting in my old age.”

(Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning)

Contributor

Raphael Rubinstein

Raphael Rubinstein is the author of The Miraculous (Paper Monument, 2014) and A Geniza (Granary Books, 2015). He is currently writing a book about the Jewish-Egyptian writer Edmond Jabès. A Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston School of Art, he divides his time between Houston and New York.

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The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2021

All Issues