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Ill-Fated Toreador

ca. 1935-1939 Eugenie Gershoy Born: Krivoi Rog, Russia 1901 Died: United States 1986 polychromed dextrine on wood 20 x 10 1/8 x 13 5/8 in. (50.8 x 25.6 x 34.5 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from General Services Administration 1971.447.31 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 47B

Luce Center Quote

“I began to explore the use of color . . . to intensify gesture and expression, to accentuate movement, heighten dramatic effects, [and] enhance the imagery.” Artist’s statement

Luce Center Label

During the late 1930s, Eugenie Gershoy began working for the Works Progress Administration in New York. A friend of hers, the artist Max Spivak, was designing a series of murals for a children’s library in Astoria, Long Island. Gershoy decided to create colorful figurines to go along with Spivak’s paintings. These sculptures depicted circus characters posed in a variety of impossible feats, including the figures in Ill-Fated Toreador, who dangles precariously from a bull’s horn, and The Very Strong Man, who lifts an elephant above his head while balancing on one toe. The library was so pleased with the work of Gershoy and Spivak, they rebuilt the space into an oval to emphasize the circus setting.


Animal - cattle

Dress - costume - matador costume

Figure male - full length

Occupation - sport - bullfighting

State of being - other - accident

New Deal - Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project - New York City



About Eugenie Gershoy

Born: Krivoi Rog, Russia 1901 Died: United States 1986

More works in the collection by
Eugenie Gershoy