Monday, June 30, 2014

three together

This is a block of wood from which an artist, Agnes Weinrich, made white-line prints. She made it about 1916 during a summer stay at the art colony in Provincetown at the end of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

Lately I've been filling gaps in Wikipedia's coverage of some American artists. I've completed work on one, am finishing off another, and have begun work on a third. There are interesting intersections and parallels among them. They are roughly of the same generation, were born to immigrant parents, lost one or both parents while still young, and lived in artists' colonies.

They also all lived their lives in family groupings of three. Agnes Weinrich lived her entire life with her sister Helen. In 1922, when Helen married the aspiring painter, Karl Knaths, it was he who moved in with them. Agnes was then 49, Helen 46, and Karl 31. He was living hand-to-mouth while they were blessed with a comfortable inheritance. The trio spent the rest of their lives, living, traveling, and working together.

Andrée Ruellan was the third artist. She had no contact with Agnes, Helen, and Karl so far as I know. Her living-arrangement-of-three consisted of herself, her widowed mother, and her husband, Jack Taylor. As with the other, this one came together when Andrée and Jack married and continued intact thereafter.

Throughout much of the 20th century there was nothing particularly unusual about family groupings that included members outside the nuclear parents-and-their-children grouping. During the first half of the century, it was probably more likely than not that a maiden aunt (in the phrase of the time) or aged grandparent, or even the struggling nephew would be part of the household. The family arrangements that my three artists worked out interest me mostly because they were tightly-bonded trios. Neither of the marriages produced children and, although you might think there was cause for friction in the makeup—two artists and one other in each case—the bonds within each group of three were reported to be strong ones. Whatever difficulties they had getting along, none of any consequence were known to the world.

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