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“A Picture of Resilience”: Ashley Lazevnick on Charles Demuth’s Red Poppies 

Charles Demuth

A still life, like a poem, may be charged with private meaning. Yet it is offered like a gift that the viewer may open for themselves, not unlike the delicate unfurling of a flower. Charles Demuth’s watercolor Red Poppies of 1929 exemplifies how vulnerability may reflect resilience, a tension expressed as well by William Carlos Williams in a contemporaneous poem that meditates on loss.

Read the full text of William Carlos Williams’ poem “The Crimson Cyclamen (to the memory of Charles Demuth)” here.

TRANSCRIPT

Recorded on August 4, 2021. 

Ashley Lazevnick

Ashley Lazevnick is an assistant professor and program director of art history at Converse University in Spartanburg, South Carolina. A specialist in modern American art, she is currently completing her first book, Fantasies of Precision, which re-examines a group of painters known as the Precisionists, who are best remembered for their stark portrayals of factories and cityscapes. More broadly, her research investigates the intersections of art and literature, the history of science, and philosophies of pragmatism in the twentieth century. Her recent publications include an essay on the queer post-humanism of Charles Demuth’s still life Green Pears (1929) and the rhetoric of trust in medical models of SARS-CoV-2. She is a graduate of the Williams Graduate Program in the History of Art and was a fellow at the Clark in summer 2021.