|American Paintings — Aaron Henry Gorson - Industrial landscape (2)|
|Aaron Henry Gorson - Industrial landscape (2)
Industrial landscape (2)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Canvas size: 31” x 26”; Framed size: 37 1/8” x 32 3/8”
Signed l.r.: AHG
Aaron Henry Gorson
Aaron Harry Gorson was from birth surrounded by the landscape of industry, so much so that it became part of his very fibre and influenced both his thought and perception of the world around him. He was born on June 2, 1872 in Kovno, Lithuania, a city with a thriving textile industry and where at the age of thirteen he apprenticed to a tailor. In 1888, Gorson followed his older brother to the United States and found employment in Philadelphia as a machine operator in a clothing factory. At night he studied painting at the Spring Garden Institute.
1894 was a year of momentous change for Gorson. He married and enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, studying under the Realist, Thomas Anshutz. He remained at the Academy for four years, but eked out a living painting portrait commissions on the side. It was during this time that he met Rabbi Leonard Levy who was to remain a faithful patron for many years. The Rabbi arranged for Gorson to spend the year, 1900, in Paris where the young painter enrolled at the Academie Julian. He also attended evening classes at the Academie Colarossi, located near the studio of one of the artist’s greatest influences, James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). While in Paris, Gorson also joined the American Art Association and the Union International des Beaux Arts et des Lettres.
After returning to Philadelphia, Gorson continued to accept portrait commissions until in 1903 he took one of the most fundamental decisions of his life. He followed his patron, Rabbi Levy to Pittsburgh where the rabbi had been appointed leader of the Reformed congregation of Rodef Shalom. Gorson quickly received commissions from Pittsburgh’s elite including Mrs. W. S. King, the wife of a glass manufacturer; the Mellon family; Charles Schwab; Judge Gary; and Andrew Carnegie. The industrial surroundings of Pittsburgh indelibly changed Gorson’s work as an artist and he now focused his attention upon its depiction. He was to later write that the city was, “bountifully endowed by nature with scenes of grandeur and enthralling picturesqueness.” The influence of Whistler became all too apparent in the subdued harmonious palette characterized by tonal blocks of color. Moreover, Gorson became fascinated by the effect of light upon the landscape noting “the way in which the muddy river water catches the gleam of the dying light and becomes transformed into running gold.” Of great interest was nocturnal light, the smoke of the chimney stacks balanced by the gray/black sky and the scene punctuated by Pittsburgh’s great blast furnaces.
Between 1908 and 1921, Aaron Gorson was a regular exhibitor at the Carnegie International and showed often with the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh. He showed in fourteen exhibitions at the National Academy of Design between 1921 and 1933, and at the Pan-American Exhibition in Los Angeles in 1915. Gorson was also a contributor to exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and had his work shown in galleries in Boston, Detroit and New York. A major retrospective of his work was held at the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute in 1967.
In 1921, Gorson moved to New York and began painting scenes of the city and views of the Hudson River. However, the steel mills of Pittsburgh never left his consciousness and he continued to produce works showing them. In New York Gorson maintained a prominent position in the art world becoming a founding member of the Grand Central Art Galleries, and joining the American Federation of Arts, the Brooklyn Society of Artists, the Art Alliance of America and the Salmagundi Club. He remained in the city until his death in 1933 at the age of sixty-one.