"(Untitled)"   Lot no. 589

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By Winold Reiss (1886-1953)

16.00" x 12.00"
Pen and Ink on Board
Signed Lower Left



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book illustration

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Winold Reiss studied with the esteemed painter and teacher Franz von Stuck at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, which was a center of the decorative and fine-arts movement. E. Martin Hennings (1886-1956) and Walter Ufer (1876-1936) also studied at the Royal Academy about that time and later became members of the Taos Art Society. All of these artists' work depicts elements taught by von Stuck. 


Reiss came to the United States in 1913, inspired by the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, expressly to paint the American Indian. In 1919, he went west, visiting the Blackfeet Indians who made him an honorary member of the tribe, and named him "Beaver Child." There he painted a collection of Indian portraits, including 81 for the Great Northern Railroad. Those portraits were exhibited in Europe and here in the United States. 


Although he became known for these Indian portraits, Reiss was a pioneer of modernism and was also well known for his exceptional work in graphic and interior design. A compassionate man who greatly respected all people as human beings, he believed his art could help break down racial prejudices. 


As well as being a painter, he excelled as a commercial graphic artist, teacher, muralist, interior designer and architect. He was a force in New York's emigre design colony by co-founding the Society of Modern Art and its magazine, "Modern Art Collector."


Reiss was unusual in sometimes incorporating mosaic and three-dimensional or sculptural elements in his wall decorations, all of which he considered as 'murals'. Interior decorative metalwork in a variety of metals figured in his restaurant commissions of the 1920s. 


For the Hotel Alamac in 1923, Reiss designed five metalwork sculptures for the Medieval Grill. King and Queen, which was recently discovered, is one of the five metal panels that were designed by Reiss and executed by Julios Ornos and Chalres Bardosy, metal smiths. 


A companion. panel from the Medieval Grill, Harlequin, is illustrated on the cover of Craft in the Machine Age, The History of the Twentieth Century American Craft 1920-1945, by Janet Kardon for the American Craft Museum. In Harlequin, as well as King and Queen, Reiss combined brass, copper, aluminum, stell and iron to emulate Native American motifs, particularly rows of linked triangles and repetetive zigzag lines, a signature of his modern work and a characteristic Blackfoot design which he admired.