American (1904 – 1967)
Arrangement for Drums, 1941
Fine & Looney 191. Lithograph in two colors, pale green and black, on wove paper with full margins and deckled edges. Printed by Theo Cuno. Edition of 35. Signed, titled, dated, and inscribed “Ed 35 for Marcia Friget(?)” in pencil.
9 3/8 x 14 5/8 inches | 23.8 x 37.1 cm
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Free Library of Philadelphia
Our new acquisition is a rare and important modernist lithograph by the renowned Philadelphia artist Benton Spruance. In the early 1940s, Spruance was fascinated with musicians on stage, and the percussion section of the Philadelphia Orchestra inspired Arrangement for Drums. One drummer is about to clap the cymbals, another holds a drumstick above the bass drum, and another strikes the timpani. A series of eight preparatory drawings for the print illustrates how the artist simplified and flattened the forms, which are aligned on the frontal plane like a bas-relief (see Fine & Looney p. 11-13). The repetitive, interlocking shapes create a staccato rhythm befitting the musical subject. One of Spruance’s earliest attempts at color lithography, Arrangement for Drums was printed in black and pale green, the so-called tint stone, which creates a third white color. The tones and varying textures created with the lithographic crayon further enliven the surface.