1885 - 1969
Essence of Line

Ink on paper, signed and dated ’34 lower right
Image size: 9 3/4 x 15 inches (24.75 x 24.5 cm)
Mounted and framed
£750

 

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A unique drawing, this work is typical of Brodzky’s early nudes with its economy in the use of the line and the seemingly relaxed, informal pose of the model. The spontaneous feel of many of Brodsky’s drawings does in a way indicate that the works, such as the present drawing, are purely sketches and studies. In fact, Brodsky was known for making perhaps twenty or thirty drawings at a sitting and of those he preserved perhaps only a handful. James Laver noted that the artworks that survived ‘passed his rigorous censorship [and] sum up qualities resulting from the perfect collaboration of hand and eye and sensibility’ (Forty Drawings by Horace Brodsky, by James Laver, 1935, p.15).

In this text Laver continued to write that ‘Brodsky preferred a pose that showed the body from an unexpected angle, daringly foreshortened or with the weight of the various parts freed from the monotony of the standing pose. He liked to see his models from above, the limbs relaxed, and…. he made many of his drawings from a step-ladder drawn up close to the platform on which the model is lying’.

 

 

Horace Brodsky

Horace Ascher Brodzky (30 January 1885 – 11 February 1969) was an Australian-born artist and writer most of whose work was created in London and New York. His work included paintings, drawings and linocuts, of which he was an early pioneer. An associate in his early career of many leading artists working in Britain of his period, including Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Mark Gertler, and members of the Vorticism movement, he ended his life relatively neglected.

Brodzky was born in Kew, Melbourne in 1885 to the Australian journalist Maurice Brodzky (a Jewish immigrant to Australia from Poland), and his wife Flora, née Leon. In his youth he assisted his father in the production of the magazine Table Talk.

Brodzky studied initially at the National Gallery School in Melbourne. In 1904 his father was bankrupted after exposing corruption, and Horace moved with his family to San Francisco.

In 1908, Brodzky went to London where he studied during 1911 at the City and Guilds South London Technical Art School. He became an acquaintance and follower of Walter Sickert. Amongst his friends was Henri Gaudier-Brzeska who created in 1913 a portrait bust of Brodzky (now in the Tate Gallery, London), and whose biography he wrote in 1933. Brodzky is said to have been so engrossed in talk when he visited Gaudier-Brzeska’s studio in the King’s Road, that he missed the last bus to Herne Hill where he lived.

Brodzky travelled to Italy with the poet John Gould Fletcher and this led to his first London exhibition, “Paintings and Sketches of Italian and Sicilian Scenes” (c. 1911), of which one painting was selected for the 1912 Venice Biennale. He was in fact the first Australian to be exhibited at the Biennale. In 1914 his work was exhibited along with that of other Jewish artists, including Mark Gertler and David Bomberg, in the Whitechapel Gallery. Brodzky became a member of The London Group. During this period he was a pioneer of the technique of linocut, in which medium he has been said to have “excelled”. His early oils reveal the influence of both Gertler and Bomberg. Among his works of this period are portraits of Jacob Epstein and Jacob Kramer.

In 1915 Brodzky moved to New York, with an introduction to the art patron John Quinn. There he worked as a poster artist and an arts journalist, and in 1917 helped Quinn organize a New York exhibition of Vorticist artists. In 1919 he married Bertha Greenfield; they were to have three sons. In 1920 Egmont Arens published in New York a collection of 21 of Brodzky’s linoprints. Brodzky also designed book jackets for writers including Eugene O’Neill and Theodore Dreiser, and painted a portrait of O’Neill.

Returning to London in 1923 he became a professional artist. His work featured in the first-ever exhibition of linocuts, organized by Claude Flight at the Redfern Gallery in 1929. Initial success however withered in the 1930s, when his marriage broke up, and from then on he lived in financial straits. In 1946 Brodzky published his own study of the French-Romanian-Jewish artist Jules Pascin. In London he lived for most of the rest of his life in the Kilburn and Willesden areas, continuing to produce paintings, drawings and linocuts. He supported himself by teaching and painting stage-decor and from 1948 to 1962 he was art-editor of the Antique Dealer and Collector’s Guide, (founded by his brother Adrian).

In 1965 80th anniversary exhibitions were organized for Brodzky at the Ben Uri Gallery and the Oxford Union Cellars. In 1967 some of his early linocuts were reissued in London in a signed edition of 60 prints. Brodzky died in Kilburn in 1969, when his estate was valued for probate at £7977. Exhibitions of Brodzky’s work were held in the Jewish Museum of Australia (1988) and at the Boundary Gallery, London (1989).