The Woman in Orange, c. 1936<img alt="" src="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Menzel-The-Woman-in-Orange.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />The Woman in Orange, c. 1936<div class="ExternalClass7350C8ADC652422FA68863AF580F8A94"><p>​His rod held upright, a fisherman strikes a graceful dance-like pose as he stands on the Chicago lakefront in Herman Menzel's <em>The Woman in Orange</em>. Dominating the composition and uniting its bands of sky, water, and land, the figure is balanced by two others—a youth reaching down toward a fish flopping on the pier and the eponymous woman in an orange dress seated on the shoreline's blocky boulders. The decorative arrangement of blue, pink, and lavender clouds filling the sky reinforces the apex of a triangle formed by the fisherman, who looks out toward sailboats on the horizon. The separation between the figures, none of whom face the viewer or each other, and their isolation from the distant pleasure-craft hint at the social inequities and economic privations of the Depression era, when the painting was made.</p><p>Menzel grew up in a German American enclave on Chicago's South Side and learned to paint in local commercial art schools. He also studied in rural Woodstock, New York, where he developed a deep love of nature. Isolated by early deafness, Menzel was a reclusive figure supported throughout his career by his wife, Willa Hamm Menzel, a successful advertising artist. Although he remains little known today, Menzel's paintings reflect some of the concerns that preoccupied many of Chicago's modernist artists from the 1920s through the 1950s. His interpretations of everyday subjects, from urban life to rural and backwoods scenery, are fraught with a sense of mystery and hushed expectation that links him to the strong current of surrealism in the Chicago art of his time. Showing the shoreline just north of Navy Pier, <em>The Woman in Orange </em>is part of a group of Chicago lakefront fishing and swimming scenes that Menzel painted in the late 1930s, many of which are tinged with his characteristic mood of loneliness and subtle unease.</p></div>GP0|#a93b5970-407b-40ef-8749-cabb868faaf3;L0|#0a93b5970-407b-40ef-8749-cabb868faaf3|Herman Menzel;GTSet|#6a9f5109-021d-478a-ae73-864102492159;GPP|#9d68cbd3-25f3-49f0-8924-6cbe6cdb2f21;GPP|#be65f490-4890-487c-bb16-c396d99511f7Art;#TemporaryPainting;#Painting Oil;#Painting Oil on Canvas;#Oil on canvas, 221⁄8 × 261⁄8 inches, Collection of David and Susan Ford Curry