Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jackson Square

One of a dozen woodcuts by Flora depicting New Orleans landmarks, historical vignettes, and social settings. The series was commissioned around 1940 by the Union Central Life Insurance Company of Cincinnati for their Agency Bulletin. The whereabouts of the original blocks are unknown.

At the time, having recently completed studies at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Flora was a struggling freelancer. "Soft-spoken and unassuming," the Bulletin proclaimed, "James happens to be the sort of artist who works away eight or ten hours a day on assignments, and then goes home to cut away on another woodblock until early morning, just to keep his hand in."

Years later, Flora told interviewer Angelynn Grant, "They were my idea of what New Orleans looked like even though I'd never been there."

HT: D. Gorton for the aerial recognition.