Drawings and Watercolors of Lewis Mumford
|Author: ||Di Mattio, Vincent and Kenneth R. Stunkel|
For more than half a century the distinguished critic, humanist, and historian
Lewis Mumford accumulated sketches and watercolors that he executed while engaged in exploratory rambles through cities and landscapes. He also sketched notable people associated with his early education and career as a nationally recognized writer, which resulted in the National Medal of Freedom and The National Medal of Art. His hundreds of drawings lay buried in folders in Amenia, New York until the 1980' s. Now they can be sampled and enjoyed as a hitherto unknown extension of a literary career that lasted more than 70 years. The authors are uniquely qualified to assemble this volume. They spent many hours with Mumford and his wife, Sophia, until his death in 1990, and secured custody of all the drawings and watercolors for their institution, Monmouth University. Dr. Stunkel is a historian and has written on Mumford's thought. Professor DiMattio is an exhibiting artist and curator of the Mumford collection.
This volume is focused on Mumford as a gifted but unintentional artist. The Preface was supplied by Sophia Mumford before her death in 1997. The authors provide short essays that explain how the drawings and watercolors came to light, Mumford's strengths as an untrained amateur with pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor, and his intimate connections with art as a critic. The volume features 38 of the drawings and watercolors reproduced from the original works, with two photographs of Mumford in the 1920' s and 1970' s. Cross-referenced pages containing commentary on each piece and apt quotations from Mumford's books accompany the images. Following the images and commentary is a catalogue raisonne of 321 drawings and 16 rare photographs. The volume concludes with works cited and a bibliographical essay.
"For as far back as I can remember him, Lewis sketched as he thought- constantly. Always there was a sketchpad in his coat pocket, or if in the country, in the rucksack he invariably slung over his shoulders when he or we went walking. He thought as naturally as he breathed and he observed and absorbed everything that came his way. In the course of time, I learned to stop in my tracks at the signal-an upheld hand-that meant an idea had struck, a thought needed to be captured on paper, or something he wanted to note, to sketch, had caught his eye.
The sketching was as instinctive as the writing. It was Lewis's way of talking to himself ... It was only when his autobiography, Sketches From Life, was being prepared for publication, and the format was under discussion, that the idea of using his own sketches as illustrations emerged and was taken seriously enough for us to collect a small portfolio for consideration. But after the book had appeared in 1984, two astute members of the faculty at Monmouth College [subsequently Monmouth University], Vincent DiMattio and Kenneth Stunkel, were inspired to ask if there were any more in existence. So we began to unearth the sketches from the folders and files in which they had been carelessly thrust over the years. Presently our search led to the discovery of over three hundred.
The net result was that Monmouth College undertook to matte and frame the pictures, house them as the Lewis Mumford Collection, arrange exhibits, and make them available to an interested public. The rest of the story is better left to Stunkel and DiMattio, who have lived and worked with the pictures over the years. They have a deeper and more analytic approach than my simple pleasure in them and the circumstances of their origin." - (from the Commendatory Preface) Sophia Mumford
Table of Contents
1. The drawings and watercolors
2. Lewis Mumford as artist
3. Lewis Mumford's world of art
4. The works: context and commentary
References and select bibliography