Louis Lozowick (1892–1973) was born in Ludvinovka, Russia, in what is now the Ukraine. He attended the Kiev Art School from 1904 to 1906 and immigrated to the United States because of the political turmoil and aftereffects of the 1905 Russian Revolution. His brother, who was already living in America, sent for him, not wanting Lozowick to experience persecution as a Jew in Czarist Russia.
Lozowick arrived at Ellis Island in 1906 at the age of fourteen, without a passport or papers. Once in New York, he took a series of factory jobs to pay for his art studies at the National Academy of Design, which he attended from 1912 to 1915. In 1915, he entered Ohio State University and graduated with the Phi Beta Kappa distinction within three years. After his graduation in 1918, Lozowick joined the U.S. Army as a member of the medical corps. During the years between 1920 and 1923, he traveled extensively throughout Europe and Russia, studying art, theater, and architecture while supporting himself by writing articles for various European publications. During this period, he associated with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, El Lissitzky, and other avant-garde Russian artists. He noticed a European movement towards “awe and envy” of American industrialized culture that would influence the style of his artwork for the remainder of his career.
Upon his return to the United States, Lozowick began his Machine Ornament series, exploring the straight lines, contrasting light and shadow, and geometrical patterns of the urban landscape. The year 1926 was exceptionally creative for him as he began to explore different venues for his newfound art. He designed the stage set for an experimental Chicago theater production entitled Gas, and it was the first Constructivist-inspired stage set in America. He also designed sets, textiles, and window displays for the Lord and Taylor centennial celebration and became a founder and contributing editor of the New Masses, a left-wing publication devoted to social activism and reform, where many of his advertisements and lithographs appeared throughout the years. A number of exhibits of his lithographs were held during this time including the 1927 Machine Age Exposition, which expressed his ideas about American industry.
During the Depression, Lozowick, like many of his fellow artists, created murals and prints for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a government program that sent millions of unemployed Americans back to work. Two of his more famous WPA-era murals, Triboro Bridge and Lower Manhattan, reside in the New York City General Post Office; they were restored in 1998. In 1936, he was an event coordinator for the First American Artists Congress against War and Fascism, held in New York City between 14 and 16 February 1936.
Lozowick’s works are in the permanent collections of several museums including the National Gallery of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, the U.S. Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
In addition to his accomplishments as a practicing artist, he taught for several years at the John Reed Club and the American Art School in New York City and was considered an authority on modern Russian art. He wrote extensively on the art of Russia, on Jewish art, and on theater. Published posthumously were his memoirs, Survivor from a Dead Age, and his biography of the American artist William Gropper.
Although he began his artistic career as a painter, Lozowick is best known for his lithographs depicting the complex architecture of the American urban landscape. His bridges, scaffolding, train tracks, skyscrapers, and industrial machinery capture a specific time in history. His artwork, while clearly American, was heavily influenced by the Russian Constructivism, Precisionist, DeStijl, Purism, and Bauhaus movements. [View Lozowick Gallery]