Jean Charlot

Eugene Payor, assistant professor at the art department, is giving Athenians their first opportunity to view a comprehensive survey of his work.  His one man show will remain open at the Fine Arts gallery until December 6th.  

The first thing that sets apart this show from previous ones is the diversity of techniques.  Drawings, lithographs, oils, watercolors, compete in interest with two techniques that have only recently entered the realm of fine arts, photo-montage and air-brush.  The aims are as varied as the techniques, from intimate portraits of family and friends made for oneself rather than for exhibition purposes to the recording of travel scenes, capped with the wider appeal of the commercial work––posters and billboards artfully planned to compete with the other advertisements that line street cars and subways in crowded New York.  

The Georgia Scene

The Georgia scene is recorded in some water-colors that will no doubt interest Georgians, but more so New Yorkers, when[2] Payor opens there his next one man show––for there can be seen houses set in spacious landscapes, a luxury taken for granted here but that not even millionaires can afford in the big city.  Southerners in turn will be thrilled by views of New York that only a born New Yorker can evoke with such unawed familiarity––not the skyscrapers and monuments celebrated the world round by post cards, but less stupendous and richer in human feeling: a farewell record of an elevated station in Greenwich Village before it was torn down as improvements attempt to force this artists’ haven down to the monotonous level of the rest of the town.  An air-warden post in King Street, a quiet brick house dwarfed by the noisy background of a war factory, an unpretentious historical record that will remain valuable long after gaudy war pictures that make the eagle scream will have lost their effectiveness.   

Among the oils, the whimsical still-life of stuffed birds and shells against a patterned background contrasts the modern approach of heavily loaded brush strokes with the Victorian implications of the subject matter.  The Mexican scenes illustrate a colorful approach that will no doubt afford relief to those Athenians who know of Mexico only through the compact pictures of Jean Charlot.    

Important Contribution

Intensely conceived and tenaciously executed, the portraits are an important contribution.  The show is dominated by “The School Teacher,” seen from the worm’s eye view that the small boys seated at their desks receive of her towering personality.  One should not overlook the two smaller figures––“Girl with Masks,” a most unusual and successful harmony created between the orange sweater and the flesh-pink masks.  The portrait of the painter reflected in a mirror with beveled edges asserts forcefully the concentration of the artist at work, at the same time that it states the optical problems that beset his eye.   

The commercial work shows side by side the finished poster and the original rendering.  In an advertisement for breakfast food the painter succeeded in water-color rendering in going further into realism than even the color camera could go.  Most successful is the photo-montage in which a car in full motion emerges from a roll of billboards.   

Besides the interest of subject matter and technique, the wide range of style, from the absolute realism of some of the commercial work to the lyrical deformations of the figure compositions, is an impressive answer to the query that many a layman makes: “Can the modern artist draw??"  


[1] The original typescript of this article cannot be found.  The present text is a transcription with minor editing by John Charlot. 

[2] Original: where.