Charles Turzak (1899 - 1986)

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Charles Turzak (1899 - 1986)

600.00

Charles Turzak (1899 - 1986)
"Nine Lives (brown)"
LE Linoleum Cut 1/50
14 x 12 inches (margins)
12 x 8 1/2 inches (lino cut)
Signed: C. Turzak (lower right)
Mid to late 20th cent.
 

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Charles Turzak was born August 20, 1899, in Streator, Illinois, the third child and only son of Czechoslovakian immigrant parents. His father was a coal miner who worked long days, so many rural chores occupied Turzak’s boyhood years. He escaped his duties to do what he enjoyed most: carefully carve miniature animals from peach seeds, which he would sell for pennies.

Turzak is also well known for his woodcuts biographies of notable Americans. His first edition on Abraham Lincoln sold so well at the Century of Progress that it supported Turzak through the fair and the Depression. He followed it with Benjamin Franklin: A Biography in Woodcuts, which was accompanied by text written by his wife, Florence Turzak. His series of ten prints,History of Illinois in Woodcuts, 1934, in the Friedman collection, was made at the height of the Depression, and is considered to be a turning point in his career. Turzak clearly learned from his previous success: three woodcuts from the Illinois series feature images of Lincoln—one shows him as a muscled lumberjack wielding an axe; another captures him reclining and barefoot, while reading his law books; and the third memorializes his Springfield home. The interest and notoriety of this series helped to establish Turzak’s commercial career in advertising.

Turzak exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1940, and worked for the Works Progress Administration, completing a mural for the Chicago Post Office. From 1942, he was art director of Today's Health Magazine. He lived in Chicago until 1958, and then moved to Orlando, Florida. During the 1950s to 1970s, he painted in several abstract styles and in the 1970s and 1980s, was painting floral still lifes and marine scenes.

This woodblock entitled "Nine Lives" is a beautiful example of Turzak's work. This woodblock is on a handmade extremely thin japon paper he made himself. Depicting an intricate and flowing scene of 9 cats in brown and black silhouette this work was also made in a green variation. Signed in the lower right corner "C Turzak" and titled lower left "Nine Lives". This print is numbered "1/50" adding to its value and desirability being the first example that came off the lino block!  In overall excellent condition this print has two small bends to the top left and right corner as well an incredibly faint discoloration from previous matting around the image. Two pinholes and tape marks are present in the top margin all of which is easily covered by matting and not damaging to the print further.

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