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Todros Geller

(1889 - 1949)
Todros Geller was born in the Ukraine and began his art studies in Odessa. He emigrated to Canada in 1906 and subsequently to the United States where he settled in Chicago. Geller studied at the Art Institute of Chicago between 1918 and 1923, taking classes with visiting artist George Bellows in 1919. He visited Palestine in 1929, a trip which inspired one of three primary themes that developed in his work: Judaica, social realism, and the Southwest.

Geller traveled to New Mexico in the mid-1930s and produced a number of woodblock and linocut prints, a dozen of which were published in his 1937 book ‘From Land to Land.’ He worked for the mural and graphics branch of the Federal Art Project in Chicago and taught at Hull House, the city’s famous settlement center and art school. In the second half of the 1920s Geller shared a studio with Emil Armin. Geller’s work is held in the collections of the Harwood Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

The woodblock print ‘Taos Ranchos’ presents a compelling take on the iconic San Francisco de Asis church. Rather than depicting the church as light against a dark sky or dark against a light sky, Geller’s approach is to present the looming church as dark against dark, defining its profile with a glowing serrated nimbus. With no human counterparts to offer scale, Geller’s compact depiction of the church offers a compelling contrast with Leon Pescheret’s aquatint of the same subject, in which the structure is shown as distinctly elongated to the vertical.

Geller’s color woodblock print of the Church of San Antonio in the village of Cordova offers a livelier take on the theme with bright accents of green and blue offsetting the gold/yellow of the building. The technical challenge of managing five color blocks (yellow/gold, blue, purple, green and black) is evident in the slight offsets in registration seen throughout the print.

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