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Alfred Wolmark (1877-1961)
The Flatiron Building, New York, 1919

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In November 1919 Wolmark sailed for New York on RMS Royal George with the journalist Hannon Swaffer. He stayed in the studio at 50 West 55th Street and painted a number of New York landscapes in 1919 and 1920. These include several pictures of the Flatiron Building, another of which is in the Government Art Collection.

Upon its completion in 1902, the Flatiron Building, at 175 Fifth Avenue, was one of New York's tallest buildings. Officially named the Fuller Building after George A. Fuller, founder of the company that financed its construction two years after his death, it took its more popular name from the triangular plot it was built on (the Flatiron block, so called because it was shaped like a clothes iron; the building is only 2m wide at its 'prow'). Designed by Chicago's Daniel Burnham, it was one of the first buildings to use a steel skeleton, which made its height of 285ft (87m) and 22 stories possible. Locals took an immediate interest in the building, taking bets on how far the debris would spread when the wind knocked it down. By 1919 when Wolmark painted it, the Flatiron building was already known as one of New York's landmarks.

As well as The Flatiron Building the Jerwood Foundation also holds two more Wolmark paintings, In the Carpenter's Shop and Portrait of Norman Kohnstamm.

Image: Copyright permission of Mrs Diana S. Hall

Medium

oil on canvas

Dimensions

91.5 x 55.8cm

Provenance

with Fine Art Society, London.

Fred Mark.

Anonymous sale:Christie's, London, 21 March 1996, lot 135, where purchased.

Exhibited

Hull, Ferens Art Gallery, Alfred Wolmark 1877-1961, March-April 1975, no 75 as Warehouse (lent by Fine Art Society on behalf of Fred Mark).

Bradford, Arts Council of Great Britain, Cartwright Hall, Cityscape 1910-1939 Urban Themes in American, German and British Art, July-August 1977, no.146 as Warehouse or The Flatiron Building (lent by Fine Art Society): this exhibition toured to Portsmouth, City Museum and Art Gallery, August-October 1977, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Laing Art Gallery, October-December 1977;and London, Royal Academy, January-March 1978.

Literature

Collection Catalogue, Jerwood Collection, London 2012 p.35

On Display

Jerwood Gallery, Hastings (Room 5)

Born in Poland, Wolmark came to England with his parents in 1883 and became a British citizen the following year. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools from 1895, winning the Silver Medal in his first year.. His first solo exhibition was held at the Bruton Galleries, London (1905), and later he exhibited at the Leicester, Ben Uri (where a memorial exhibition was held in 1961) and Woodstock Galleries, as well as showing work internationally. Much of his early work depicted Jewish life in East London. After a visit to Concarneau (1910-12), Wolmark began to simplify the forms in his painting and use brighter colours. His work was included in the 1910-11 Post Impressionist exhibition in London, organised by Roger Fry, and Frank Rutter's Post Impressionist and Futurist exhibition at the Doré Gallery in 1913. He died in London in 1961