Kurt Weill

Kurt Weill acrylic on canvas – 39" x 52"

In 1981, I had recently separated from my ex-wife and was living in the loft of an historic stone barn in Newtown Square. Nights were lonely and long, and I had abandoned my painting studio when I vacated my house. My most recent paintings were large canvases that filled my 400 sq. ft studio space well, but now I was forced to downsize the scale of my paintings a bit to fit the more confined surroundings.

Having grown up with the music of the great songwriters, and in recent years finding the abstract plays of Edward Albee, Harold Pinter and Bertolt Brecht fascinating, I discovered the musical partnership between Brecht and Kurt Weill, the composer of one of the top selling records of the 1950s, Mack the Knife, when recorded by Bobby Darin. Weill also composed September Song, with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, which became an immediate hit, and popular standard, after its debut on Broadway in the 1938 musical Knickerbocker Holiday.

As I researched more about Weill, I discovered that he had been married twice to Lotte Lenya, one of the stars of my favorite musical — Caberet. Lenya had previously starred in the Three Penny Opera, written by Brecht and Weill, when it premiered in 1928. As a serious composer, and a Jew, Weill found it necessary to flee Germany in 1933 after being denounced for his populist views. He took refuge in the United States in 1935, where he flourished as a composer until his early death at the age of 50.

It’s too much coffee acrylic on canvas - approx. 30" x 40"
In planning the canvas, I decided early on to make the painting of Weill graphic, and contain words, symbols and metaphors that would generate a response, none perhaps as great as the swastika in the upper left hand corner. I also simplified the pallet to a few colors. Weill and Lenya are both painted with a textural shading adapted from my pen & ink work.

During this period, I also painted three other paintings in a similar style:
Grandmother was a Pretty Lady;
It’s too much coffee; and Abbreviate, a statement about my estrangement from my first wife.

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