|Boris Deutsch, Untitled, 1930’s, charcoal on paper.|
Lithographs and charcoal drawings by Thomas Hart Benton and Boris Deutsch comprise In the Field, one of six museum exhibits for Resilience. Benton’s regionalist style is no stranger to the FAC Permanent Collection (and Theatre!), but seeing Deutsch’s works is new for FAC audiences.
Born in Lithuania, Boris Deutsch (1892-1978) directly experienced the effects of WWI in his daily life. Deutsch travelled all around the East, from Ukraine to Russia, China to Japan, and eventually settled in Los Angeles.
Deutsch enrolled in art school in Berlin, rather than Lithuania because I was too much of an individual. I didn’t follow the crowd.”
He was drafted by the Ukranian army upon his return from Germany: Yeah. I resented being a soldier. I had nothing to fight for. My life was interrupted. I had plans to do some work and my life was interrupted, but it was something I had to do. I made a very bad soldier, by the way. They discovered that I could paint and draw, so they gave me a special place where I could do artistic work.”
“I don’t know whether I killed her entirely or whether I wounded her, or whatever it was, but it was a cow. That was my experience in the Army.”
He escaped the Ukrainian army by forging a note to go downtown for supplies. “[The train stewardess] saw that I was awfully (very) nervous and finally I told her point blank: ‘I just deserted the Army,’ and I asked her to send a telegram to my mother, and she did.”
He met another a deserter on the train, but “we were still afraid of each other.”
He traveled to numerous places in East Asia while on the run: Harbin to Liaoyuan to Tiuehlin to Shanghai to Hiroshima
From Hiroshima, he was on a ship for 10 days to Seattle. All the people on board were taken to customs, and he was “so grateful for the prison food of porridge and coffee and bread.”
Quotes are taken from the American Archives of Art interview with Deutsch in 1964. Click to read more about his artistic career and vibrant journey to America.
In the Field: Depression Era Works by Thomas Hart Benton and Boris Deutsch
March 17, 2012 – May 27, 2012