Girl at the Piano: Recording Sound

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Girl at the Piano: Recording Sound

Theodore Roszak (American, 1907-1981)


In this canvas, Roszak combined geometric abstraction, Surrealism, and his fascination with technology to create visual descriptions of sound.

Roszak, a skilled violinist, depicts the act of music making and the machine capable of recording it.

Influence of the Bauhaus

Theodore Roszak was born in Poland and moved to Chicago at the age of two. He studied at the National Academy of Design and the Art Institute of Chicago. Roszak began his career as a traditional painter, but his style changed when he was exposed to contemporary European art. His major influence was the German Bauhaus School, which combined architecture, design, sculpture, and painting to form a single aesthetic experience. Roszak is best known for his sculptures that reflect Bauhaus ideals. They were abstracted forms with clean lines and minimal detail. Many of these pieces resembled the amoeba-like shapes of Joan Miró.

In Girl at the Piano, Roszak combined geometric abstraction, Surrealism, and his fascination with the technology of the machine age to create visual descriptions of sound. Roszak was an accomplished violinist, and this painting portrays both the act of making music and the machine capable of recording it. As a trained toolmaker, Roszak believed in the integration of industry and art. His attitude is reflected in the colorful mechanism linking the keyboard to the recording stylus. The three enigmatic forms to the left of the pianist’s head resemble machine parts, but they could also be symbolic of the musician’s abstract thoughts. Here, Roszak blends the contemplative aura of the pianist with the sleek precision of his machines.

Dreishpoon, Douglas. Theodore Roszak: Paintings and Drawings from the 1930s. New York: Hirschl and Adler, 1989.

Object Information

artist
Theodore Roszak (American, 1907-1981)
creation date
1935
materials
oil on canvas
dimensions
37 x 48 in.
accession number
1989.73
credit line
James E. Roberts Fund and Martha Delzell Memorial Fund
copyright
© Estate of Theodore Roszak/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
collection
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945
colors