Art Of The Day

Happy July! 

To connect with Julys past, take a look at this Julian Wehr woodcut, which illustrated the week of July 11 through 17 in a 1937 calendar. Featuring a print for every week of the year, this calendar was produced by the Milwaukee-based Gutenberg Publishing Company. The calendar represents 53 American artists, many of whom achieved success across artistic disciplines. 

Best known for illustrated children’s stories, Wehr created and published 40 books which in turn sold nearly 9,000,000 copies in the United States and Great Britain. Additionally, several volumes were translated and sold in Spain, Germany, and France. Though his prolificity is notable, Wehr’s ingenious moving designs are more impressive still. Referred to as “Animated Books” by collectors, Wehr’s work was characterized by simple pull-tab mechanisms that allowed young readers to manipulate the storybook illustrations in a variety of directions. 

This image, titled “Hot Argument,” depicts animation of another sort. Here we see a group of men shooting the breeze under the precarious shade of a rickety lean-to. Pipe wiggling in the corner of his mouth and hat flopping, one agitated conversationalist stands in the lower right corner of the image, raising his hand to emphasize his point. The drama of the argument is distilled to this single moment, underscoring Wehr’s narrative knack for visual storytelling.

How would you depict a heated debate?

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Julian Wehr

Hot Argument from American Block Print Calendar for 1937

, 1936
Woodcut, 8 3/8 x 7 in. (21 x 18 cm)
Gift of James A. Leach and Elisabeth F. Leach, 2015.330b