The Very Strong Man

  • Eugenie Gershoy, The Very Strong Man, 1936-1940, polychromed dextrine, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Erwin P. Vollmer, 1985.6

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.

Luce Object 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

The Very Strong Man
23 x 13 7/8 x 9 5/8 in. (58.4 x 35.2 x 24.5 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Erwin P. Vollmer

Mediums Description
polychromed dextrine
  • Animal – elephant
  • Fantasy
  • Performing arts – circus – strong man
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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