Cummings, E.E. (1894–1962) [Diamond, David. (1915–2005)]

Self-Portrait & Portrait of his Wife - Two Oil Paintings from the Collection of David Diamond

Self-portrait and Portrait of his wife, the model and photographer Marion Morehouse, from the important poet and visual artist. Both oil on panel, ca. 1940. The first, signed at the lower right. 8.5 x 17.5 inches (21.6 x 44.2 cm), framed to 9.5 x 18.5 inches, fine; the second, signed at the lower left. Sight size 7.75 x 12 inches (20 x 30 cm), framed to an overall size of 11.5 x 15.5 inches. Fine.

Poet E. E. Cummings, who famously avoided uppercase letters in his writings, declared that "poetry and every other art was and is and forever will be strictly and distinctly a question of individuality." Believing that poetry was visual as well as verbal, Cummings defied rules of punctuation, capitalization, and arrangement of words on the page in his poems of the 1920s and 1930s, offering a new literary experience for Americans. For some, he demonstrated the rich possibilities for self-expression; others he left feeling uncomfortable and annoyed. In either case, his radicalism made an indelible mark on twentieth-century letters and, in the words of one critic, extended "the capabilities of poetry" well beyond its traditional limits. As these portraits indicate, Cummings was also a competent painter. After serving in World War I, he studied painting in Paris and exhibited his work in New York. In 1934, after his separation from his second wife, Cummings met Marion Morehouse, a fashion model and photographer. Although it is not clear whether the two were ever formally married, Morehouse lived with Cummings in a common-law marriage until his death in 1962.

From the collection of David Diamond, considered one of the preeminent American composers of his generation. He enjoyed wide success in the 1940's and 1950's, before the serial and modernist trends largely pushed him into the shadows. The New York Times described him as "part of what some considered a forgotten generation of great American symphonists, including Howard Hanson, Roy Harris, William Schuman, Walter Piston and Peter Mennin." Among his many close friends in the world of music were Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. Diamond also had a lifelong friendship with E. E. Cummings, which began when, as a young composer, he asked to write the music for Cummings' ballet scenario TOM (based on the story of Uncle Tom's Cabin.) (17661)

Classical Music
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