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Trees at Night by Art Young

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Trees at Night

One of the most prominent cartoonists of the early 20th century, Art Young was noted for his scathing social commentary, biting wit, and progressive politics. During World War I, Young's incendiary work eventually landed him in court on charges of conspiracy to obstruct recruiting, for which he narrowly avoided conviction. It was not until his fifties that Young's creativity found a completely new subject in the many trees surrounding his Connecticut home. Young's depiction of trees is vivid and emotional-portraying in eerie black-and-white the silhouettes of trees in various humanlike states, almost like visual haiku. These drawings were published initially in the Saturday Evening Post. After drawing admiration from many readers, they were quickly included in magazines such as Collier's and LIFE, and were eventually assembled into the remarkable Trees at Night, published in 1927. While the sensibility on display is somewhat reminiscent of Arthur Rackham's memorable trees, no artist had done anything like this before. Upon the book's publication, Brooklyn's Daily Eagle enthused that it "places Art Young in a class by himself" and Baltimore's Evening Sun praised him as "one of the few real native talents that this country has produced in art." Though Trees at Night has been long out of print and nearly impossible to find, this Greenpoint Books (Angelico Press) reprint will make accessible once more Young's unique atmospheric work. This book is a prime example of how we can be influenced positively or negatively through images.