Albert Gold came home to Philadelphia after World War II and found compelling subject matter along the city’s streets, parks and marketplaces during a time of great change both locally and nationally. Rising from a poverty-stricken background, Gold was drawn to the lives of the working class, the day laborers and dockhands, the unemployed, as well as women and children experiencing the challenges and banality of urban life and detached from the post-war American prosperity enjoyed by those residing in suburban communities. In The Scribes, which was shown at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ 152nd Annual Exhibition of the American Water Colors, Prints and Drawings in early 1957, his portrayal of two African American boys drawing on a Philadelphia sidewalk immediately engages the viewer with its intersecting diagonals and strong contrast of sunlight and shadow. We then focus on the children, a pair of soft forms surrounded by a sea of brick, cement and hard edges, who are deeply absorbed in a creative pursuit offering a form of escapism from the grittiness of their environment.
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Gold's three years as a WWII combat artist contributed to the earthy realism of his art. Already well-known for his depictions of ordinary Americans struggling with the effects of the Great Depression, Gold was awarded the prestigious Prix de Rome by the American Academy in Rome in 1942, just before he was drafted into the U. S. Army. He served for three years as a combat artist in Europe, documenting the soldiers’ experiences in hundreds of drawings and watercolors that were later exhibited in Europe and at the Pentagon.
Collection of the artist
Gifted to John Fleet, Amusements Editor of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin
By descent to his daughter, private collection, Chicago, Illinois
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts / and the Philadelphia Water Color Club / One Hundred and Fifty-Second Annual Exhibition / American Water Colors, Prints and Drawings / January 20 through February 24, 1957 / Artist: Albert Gold / Return Address, Street: 6814 McCallum / City: Phila, 19 State: PA / Title: The Scribes / Medium: Watercolor (Gouache)
152nd Annual Exhibition of American Water Colors, Prints and Drawings, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and The Philadelphia Water Color Club, January 20 – February 24, 1957