Information on Local Art and ArtistsPosted: April 3, 2013
Finding information on Local Art and Artists
Have you ever wanted to know more about a local artist whose work you have seen or read about? If so, using the resources on local artists at U of L’s Art Library can help. The library keeps clipping files on local artists containing newspaper articles, exhibition announcements, pamphlets and sometimes even student papers. We have also indexed the Courier-Journal art columns since 1944 and those columns contain a treasure trove of material on local art and artists.
Romuald Kraus (1891-1954) is a perfect example of the art library’s resources. You might have seen his sculpture in the Music School. Called Reminiscence, it was made from Tennessee marble in 1939 and presented to the School of Music in 1952 by the Louisville Philharmonic Chorus and the sculptor. Below is Reminiscence.
A library file on Kraus provides the following biographical information: Kraus was born in Austria and emigrated to the U.S. in 1924. He taught at the Cincinnati Art Academy before coming to the University of Louisville in 1947. A man who eschewed the limelight, he nevertheless was thrust into it when, in 1935 he was awarded a commission in a national competition to sculpt a figure of Justice for the Newark, N.J. federal courtroom. Kraus’ Justice had no blindfold, scales or sword and definitely did not look like a Roman sculpture, the style we are all familiar with. Justice won accolades from most but censure from others. Federal judge Guy L. Fake, in whose courtroom the sculpture was supposed to reside, said the piece smacked “blatantly of Communism,” and that it conveyed “ruthless confiscation” rather than justice.
The astute researcher will also find that the Art Library has the papers of Romuald Kraus which contain correspondence between Kraus and his wife Esther, various Kraus relatives, the sculptor Henry Kreis, and others. The collection also includes Kraus’ sketchbooks and exhibition lists, along with biographical information about Kraus and his brother Leo, catalogs, articles, and photographs related to Justice and Kraus’ other work. Kraus’ papers were instrumental in the work of graduate student Eddie-Sue McDowell whose 1992 master’s thesis was titled Romuald Kraus : Justice and other work for the Works Progress Administration, 1933-1943.
Another researcher, Yale law professor Judith Resnick and co-author Dennis Curtis, used the Kraus papers for their book called Representing Justice; Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms (Yale University Press, 2011, available in the Art Library). Resnick and Curtis furthered the research on the controversy surrounding Kraus’ Justice. In 1939, during the dust-up, the statue was part of an exhibit of modern art sent to San Francisco. It received not only praise and an award but also a request that it be installed in a federal building in Covington, KY. In 1941, the Covington courthouse got a copy of the work.
Below is a photograph of Kraus with the 7 foot tall, almost 700 pound bronze Justice.