The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens has organized the first museum exhibition to focus on versatile Depression-era artist Maurice Merlin (1909–47). “Maurice Merlin and the American Scene, 1930–1947,” on view in the Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art from Jan. 19 through April 15, 2013, brings together approximately 30 paintings, watercolors, and prints by the little-known but highly accomplished artist, as well as nine works by others in his circle, to shed light on the vibrant Detroit art scene in which Merlin worked while employed by the federal government’s Works Progress Administration (WPA).
The idea to produce an exhibition on Merlin began with a gift to The Huntington of Merlin’s Public Demonstration (1940, screen print) from collector Hannah Kully. “Then we began to research and soon realized this was a great opportunity to shed some light on a little-known, politically engaged artist who looked beyond his immediate community for his subjects,” said Jessica Todd Smith, Virginia Steele Scott Chief Curator of American Art at The Huntington. “He depicted the struggles of Detroit’s African Americans and others who suffered during the Depression.”
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