The Solidity of the Road to Metaphor and Memory

Media - 1993.20 - SAAM-1993.20_1 - 50976
Copied Misha Reznikoff, The Solidity of the Road to Metaphor and Memory, 1934, oil on canvas, 30 1240 38 in. (77.5102.6 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Peter and Michael Reznikoff, 1993.20

Artwork Details

The Solidity of the Road to Metaphor and Memory
30 1240 38 in. (77.5102.6 cm.)
back upper center in pencil: M REZNIKOFF 1934 (NEUTRALITY AGREEMENT)
Credit Line
Gift of Peter and Michael Reznikoff
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Figure group
  • Fantasy
  • Architecture — industry — railroad yard
  • Literature — Cummings
Object Number

Artwork Description

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.