Dec 8, 2009

Eddie and Old Man Morpheus

Eddie and Old Man Morpheus


Carl Gaertner

(American, 1898-1952)

Oil on canvas

Framed: 193.6 x 163.2 x 6.5 cm (76 1/4 x 64 1/4 x 2 9/16 in.); Overall: 182.5 x 153 cm (71 7/8 x 60 1/4 in.)

Gift of Mrs. Shuree Abrams 1999.238



In this rendering of an artist’s studio in downtown Cleveland, across the street from the Colonial Hotel, Carl Gaertner portrayed an artist friend, probably Edward Dubrowski, sleeping in a chair before an easel. (The painting’s whimsical title refers to Morpheus, the ancient Greek god of sleep.) While
the artist sleeps, however, the studio, with its subtle spatial distortions, takes on an appearance that evokes paintings by Cézanne, the Cubists, and other modern masters. Thus, the painting records the
exhausting frustrations of attempting to produce significant art in a provincial setting such as Cleveland, yet hints that it is possible to do so.
A native of Cleveland, Gaertner studied at the Cleveland School of Art under Henry Keller and Frank Wilcox. In 1925, shortly after graduating, Gaertner was hired to teach painting at the school. For a 30-year period he showed his work widely in national exhibitions at such places as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Sadly, at the peak of his artistic career, at the early age of 54, Gaertner died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage.

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