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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Painting: 20th century: The Solidity of the Road to Metaphor and Memory
The Solidity of the Road to Metaphor and Memory


The Solidity of the Road to Metaphor and Memory
1934
Misha Reznikoff
oil on canvas
30 1/2 x 40 3/8 in. (77.5 x 102.6 cm.)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Peter and Michael Reznikoff
1993.20
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The inscription “Neutrality Agreement” on the back of this painting implies that the image is about America’s involvement in Europe’s growing conflicts. It shows three strange figures, shaking hands across a train track. The person on the left thinks he is holding the hand of the figure directly opposite, when he is actually making a deal with the headless creature behind. This, together with the train tracks that lead nowhere, suggests that the “agreement” is a farce and holds no true meaning. Misha Reznikoff saw firsthand the devastation and misery of World War I during his childhood in Russia. This cast of surreal characters suggests that he saw no sincerity in the “deals” made between world leaders.


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