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Pastel with a stylized image of Adolf Hitler encouraging Americans to buy war bonds

Object | Accession Number: 2015.609.7

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    Pastel with a stylized image of Adolf Hitler encouraging Americans to buy war bonds

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Colorful pastel drawing on paper by Harold Lehman featuring an abstract caricature of Hitler with a disproportionately large head. The drawing is a study for a war bond advertisement poster and conveys that buying war bonds will antagonize Hitler. An award winning painter, muralist and sculptor, Harold Lehman was known for making political statements with his artwork. He was born and raised in New York City, but moved to Los Angeles as a teenager, attending the Otis Art Institute. While in L.A. he worked with Phil Guston, Jackson Pollock, D.A. Siqueiros, and Manuel Tolegain. In 1941, Harold moved back to New York and continued his career, working with the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) and the Federal Art Project, both New Deal programs to employ artists. He also worked with the Treasury department and Abbott Laboratories to create War Bond advertisements, pro-American propaganda, and anti-fascist pieces.
    Title
    He Doesn’t Like It: Buy War Bonds!
    Date
    creation:  1942-1943
    Geography
    creation: Woodstock (N.Y.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Lisa Lehman Trager
    Markings
    front, top and bottom, drawn, white pastel : HE DOESN’T LIKE IT!! / BUY WAR BONDS!
    Contributor
    Artist: Harold Lehman
    Subject: Adolf Hitler
    Biography
    Harold Lehman (1913-2006) was born in New York City, New York to Abraham and Rachel Lehman, immigrants from Europe who arrived in New York at the turn of the twentieth century. Early on, Harold’s father struggled to find consistent employment, working as a mailman and a vaudeville dancer. Later he found steady work as an insurance agent and then left the family and moved to California. His mother was a seamstress. Harold had a twin brother and was one of five children. Harold was part Jewish, and went through synagogue as a boy. The family lived in the West side of Brooklyn and then in the Bronx. In February 1930, Harold and his older brother Charlie moved to California to live with their father.

    In California, Harold enrolled at the Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles. There he formed lifelong friendships with future notable artists such as Phil Guston, Jackson Pollock, and Manuel Tolegain. Early in his art career, Harold worked primarily as a sculptor. He used plaster and clay as well as carving directly in stone. In 1931, after graduating from Manual Arts, Lehman won a citywide competition for a yearlong scholarship to the Otis Art Institute. In 1932, after leaving Otis, Harold focused on painting and began working with painter D.A. Siqueiros, joining his “Bloc of Painters,” a group of artists with socialist leanings. In 1933, Harold won second place in the Los Angeles Museum’s annual competition of painters and sculptors. In 1933 and 1934, Harold did work for the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) a New Deal program to employ artists.

    In 1935, Harold felt he had gone as far as he could in Los Angeles, and returned to New York City. There he painted murals for the Federal Art Project, another New Deal program created to employ artists, and sold paintings at exhibits and shows. During this time he continued working with Siqueiros and began experimenting with different types of paints, lacquers and application methods. In 1936 and 1937, Harold created paintings opposing the Fascists and the German and Italian intervention in the Spanish Civil War. In 1939, Harold painted a mural for the World’s Fair in New York. While working with Siqueiros, Harold also designed floats for several New York City parades promoting the Allied war effort and denouncing fascism. In the fall of 1941, Harold fell while painting a mural and broke both his arms. While recuperating, Harold was called up for service by the draft board. With the combination of his broken arms, his disinclination towards violence, his inability to take orders and his work as an artist for federal programs, he was able to get a deferral.

    In 1942, Harold moved from New York City to Woodstock, NY where he created several war paintings for the Section of Fine Arts and the Treasury Department. Around this time, Harold was approached by Arnold Blanch and Reeves Lewenthal, from the Associated American Artist Gallery. Through a partnership with Associated American Artists and the United States Treasury Department, Abbott Laboratories created a program to create advertisements and illustrations for its medical journal What’s New and for the United States Government’s War Department through their Schools-At-War program. They provided Harold with poster themes and he was free to create within that setting. The series of posters was created through the auspices of the Treasury Department and were successfully published nationwide. In 1943, two of Harold’s war posters were featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s Artists for Victory exhibit. In 1945, in response to the revelation of the atrocities of the Holocaust, Harold did many blackened drawings of prisoners and the camps.

    In 1946, Harold left Woodstock and returned to New York City. He continued easel painting, sculpting, and photography. He also began teaching art from his studio on West 21st Street. In 1950, Lehman met Leona Koutras, who had come to his studio for art lessons. Two years later they married and had two children. In the 1970s Harold worked as designer and scenic artist for CBS and NBC television.

    Physical Details

    Language
    English
    Classification
    Art
    Category
    Drawings
    Object Type
    Pastel drawing (lcsh)
    Genre/Form
    Pastel Drawing.
    Physical Description
    Pastel drawing on medium weight black construction paper featuring an abstract caricature of Hitler with a disproportionately large head. He has a green forehead and cheeks, yellow asymmetrical eyes with red bags under them, an overly large, orange, pointed nose, and a blue mouth and jaw. He wears a brown top with a swastika armband and his arms are crossed in front of his chest. The background is red with small black streaks in it. There are black banners at the top and bottom with white English text. The back left edge has two rectangular strips of adhesive residue.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 11.875 inches (30.163 cm) | Width: 9.000 inches (22.86 cm)
    Materials
    overall : construction paper, pastel, adhesive

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    Restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The drawing was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2015 by Lisa Lehman Trager, the daughter of Harold Lehman.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-23 16:50:56
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn597136

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