J Landau Exploring Colors

Jacob Landau: Exploring the Colors

Jacob Landau’s culmination of his lifetime’s work, Exploring the Colors, is currently on display through April 19 in the living room of the Guggenheim Library.

His work was greatly inspired by his adverse experiences growing up during the Great Depression, as well as fighting in World War II.

Landau was able to illustrate his experiences through mediums such as oil pastels, ink, photogravure, watercolor, and others.

“I see a lot of work in [Landau’s] collection that doesn’t get to come out to be viewed, so each year we pick a theme and try to find something we can kind of focus on”, said Gallery Director Scott Knauer.

“This year it’s color, and there’s so much color in what Jacob did throughout his career, it’s really amazing to see.”

It was apparent that Landau engaged in other creative pursuits, starting with one of his first jobs being as an illustrator on the original Captain Marvel comics, and earning national acclaim for his art as young as 16 years old.

Through attending the gallery’s opening last Monday, seeing his displayed works, and speaking with many organizers of the event and Landau’s colleagues, it was clear that the exhibit was an exploration of his life as an artist.

Later in Landau’s life, he combined his love of teaching with his passion for art and worked as an art teacher for over fifty years.

Susan Dogulass, M.A., a specialist professor of history, elaborated on the significance of Landau’s perspective.

“I think that’s important, again as part of the concept of education that Landau emphasized and was interested in, is adding one’s own perspective and appreciation to it,” said Douglass.

Along with the use of color in his works, Landau desired to blur the lines between his artwork and reality. Landau’s works and life are both so fascinating because they were completely intertwined.

As was said in the short movie made about his life, which is being shown alongside his illustrated works, “He could not help being an artist, it was in his very soul.”

This video then goes onto say, that even towards the end of his life, when he still trying to complete his works despite being afflicted with Parkinson’s, that he would still see inspiration everywhere he turned, and describe it as best as possible to those closest to him.

Each piece in the gallery is completely independent from each other in medium, style, color, and subject matter.

And yet, they all coherently work together and hold similar sentiments.

The artist had a distinct way of creating beautiful complex figures that also held deeper tragic themes.

This is conveyed in Landau’s use of gorgeously twisted bodies in expressive color palettes, which upon closer inspection, often hold intense expressions and symbols.

For example, in one of his works titled The Sucking Infant, the intertwining bodies of a mother and infant express the intimate relationship between mother and child.

Landau himself said, “My work has been obsessed by the figure…not only an object but also in principally as a symbol expressive of our common predicament, of the beauty and horror of existence.”

As a whole, the gallery is a stunning exhibition of well-curated pieces used to convey a beautifully complex display of emotion and dark themes.

His body of work represents the facets of his experience, through the good and bad.

They serve as not only an educational and interesting exhibit for observes, but also as a lovely memorial to the works and memory of a fantastic artist.  

IMAGE TAKEN FROM Monmouth University Art Gallery