Seymour Drumlevitch (1923-1989), Misericordia with Tallit Stripes, 1986-87; mixed media on linen, 72 x 57 ½ inches; Purchased with funds from Ilene and Peter Fleischmann , 2014
At the age of eighteen, Seymour Drumlevitch was a scholarship student at the New School for Social Research where he studied with Stuart Davis and Amédée Ozenfant. He graduated from Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture in 1946. In 1947, he and his wife, artist Harriet Greif, moved to Buffalo where he became Instructor of Paintings and Design at the Albright Art School. In 1950, he won the prestigious Prix de Rome award from the American Academy in Rome.
Misericordia with Tallit Stripes (1986-87) continues the artist’s long held strategy of reassembled elements of color and pattern to construct meaning, either critical, as in earlier work, or reverential, as in this painting. “Misericordia” is Latin for “mercy.” Tallit stripes in black, blue or white appear on a fringed Jewish prayer shawl. It is typically worn over clothing during morning prayers and all prayers for Yom Kippur, the holy “Days of Atonement” when people pray for forgiveness. The painting’s luminous gold and colorful geometric shapes suggest Temple Beth Zion’s exquisite stained glass windows designed by Ben Shahn for the main sanctuary of this architectural masterpiece in Buffalo. —NW