Eli Jacobi (1898 - 1984)
Printmaker and illustrator Elias Jacobi was born in Khar'kov, Ukraine, Russia in 1898. His art studies began in Palestine, where he attended the Bezalel Art Institute. During the Turkish occupation of Palestine, he was imprisoned in Jersualem, but ultimately emigrated to the United States with the assistance of the American Consul, and settled in New York ca. 1917. There, he studied at the Art Students League, The National Academy of Design, and The Grand Central School of Art.
He worked as a freelance illustrator for numerous newspapers including The New York Times and The New York World and magazines including The Nation and The Saturday Review, but is best remembered for his work for the Graphic Arts Division of the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration, where he specialized as a block printer. A large proportion of his printmaking for the WPA dealt with the impact of the Great Depression on Manhattan life, especially in its poorer neighborhoods such as The Bowery. His work has been exhibited at numerous venues including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Arts Club, New York; and The Art Institute of Chicago. He died in New York City.
Linocut on thin, translucent paper, 1938; edition not stated. Image size 8" x 10"; sheet size 12" x 16". Titled and signed in pencil by the artist in the lower margin.
The Progress, located at 11 Chatham Square was one of about twenty Bowery flop houses in and near the point named for William Pitt, First Earl of Chatham and twice Prime Minister of Britain, where eight different streets, including the Bowery, converged. With its greasy spoon diners and affordable rooms, the district was a magnet for destitute, emotionally disturbed, and alcoholic castaways, and the locus of numerous memorable scenes of the Depression era in New York created by Jacobi and other printmakers employed by the WPA federal artists project. Apart from a few very small tears and losses at the edges of the sheet, this scarce image is in near fine condition.