David Frank poses with the four art pieces he recently donated to CSUN: (left to right) Crucifixion, Sophie at Rest, Model and Easel, and Banquet. Photo by Maria Paredes.
California State University, Northridge has received a donation of four pieces of art by influential artist Joseph Hirsch from alumnus David Frank ’72 (History). The pieces include three prints and one original charcoal work, and they will be available as part of the University Foundation Art Collection.
Hirsch, Frank’s uncle, is widely regarded as an having a major impact on the socialist art movement of the 20th century. He was the first artist to produce a poster for a Broadway show, which became the now-classic Death of a Salesman poster, as well as an oil painting that currently hangs in the Vatican.
Frank said that he donated the paintings as a way to say “thank you” to the university.
“CSUN played a big part in my life,” he said. “I wanted others to learn about [Hirsch] and see his unique take on the world. These pieces are some of the only ones by Joe to be featured on the West Coast.”
The donated pieces — Crucifixion, Banquet, Sophie at Rest, and Model and Easel — feature Hirsch’s signature humanist and realistic techniques, his passion for the underdog and the common man laboring at his task.
Crucifixion is exemplary of these central themes. The piece, created in 1979, is one of two Hirsch paintings with a religious theme.
Banquet depicts two men enjoying a simple meal in harmony. It has been described as a liberal’s ideal depiction of the workplace. Frank was given the piece as a bar mitzvah gift by his uncle, and described it as his favorite of the works donated.
Sophie at Rest, an original charcoal piece by Hirsch, was also a gift to Frank.
“When I got out of the Army and came to New York to pursue life as an actor, I paid a visit to my aunt Ruth, Joe’s first wife,” he said. “She opened a closet, reached up to a top shelf and said, ‘Here, you want something by your uncle?’ and handed it to me as a rolled-up scroll.”Jim Sweeters, director of the CSUN Art Galleries, praised the donation.
“The University Foundation is happy to accept this donation,” Sweeters said. “Hirsch worked as a social realist painter, illustrator, muralist and printmaker whose art is well collected by museums throughout the country, including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan in New York City. The donation will help broaden our collection’s scope and be available for viewing by the university community, including students and visiting scholars.”