Cement Finishers

Leon Gilmour

American, born Russia, 1907 - 1996

Cement Finishers, 1939

  • Not On View

Wood engraving on paper

Dimensions: 15 1/4 × 12 3/8 in. (38.7 × 31.4 cm)
Image: 10 1/16 × 8 1/16 in. (25.6 × 20.5 cm)

Gift of Mr. Jack B. Pierson, 1985.23

Born in Riga, Latvia, Leon Gilmour came to America in 1916, settling in Boston where he later studied at the School of Practical Art. Gilmour’s subject matter was inspired by his experiences working as a ranch hand, gold miner, and truck driver. Gilmour eventually settled in the Los Angeles area, where he resumed his artistic studies in the late 1920s at the Otis Art Institute. Gilmour was an instructor at the University of Southern California, and also was a successful designer and illustrator. Cement Finishers reflects a unique synthesis of Gilmour’s artistic insight and firsthand experience as a laborer. Gilmour’s muscular laborers are the central focus of the image, dramatically lit and rendered in angular planes that reveal the influence of Cubism. Like many American artists of the first-half of the twentieth century, Gilmour enlivened his scenes of American life in an innovative visual style adapted from European modernism.The setting of Gilmour’s image refers to a massive project undertaken in late 1930s by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers. The project involved the lining of fifty-two miles of the Los Angeles river bed with concrete to control the river’s unpredictable and often devastating flooding.

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