Ira Moskowitz, descendant of a long rabbinical line, was born in Poland and went with his family to Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1914. The family remained there until 1927, and young Moskowitz received his first education in Prague's schools. Soon after, his family moved to New York City, and in 1927 Moskowitz became the pupil of Henry Wickey at the Art Students League, having finally resolved his conflict between a passion for drawing and a desire to follow the rabbinical profession of his forefathers. Between 1935 and 1938, he traveled to Israel and to Europe where he studied the works of the old masters, an interest derived from his first teacher and one that eventually led to his active collaboration in 1954 on the four-volume series, "Great Drawings of All Time."
In 1939, Moskowitz made his first trip to Mexico, and stayed for six months. In 1943 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and moved to New Mexico, where he remained for seven years drawing the Indians and becoming an active member of the Taos-Sante Fe artists group. It was in New York, as a student of Harry Wickey and Jerome Meyers at the Art Students League ( 1928 -32), that Moskowitz honed his talents as an artist. In the mid-to-late 1930s in Mexico, Ira was drawn to the traditions of the native peoples; in Israel, he was absorbed with the religious ceremonies of the Hasidic Jews. The prints and drawings Moskowitz created in Mexico in 1941 earned him a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1943.
In 1944, Ira and his wife, the artist Anna Barry moved to Taos, New Mexico. Moskowitz was entranced by New Mexico's light, landscapes, and cultures. By the time Ira arrived there, the region had already attracted Georgia O'Keeffe, Robert Henri, and Leon Gaspard; the Southwest was starting to be recognized as an art center. Moskowitz and his wife became acquainted with Oscar Berninghaus, Andrew Dasburg, Ernest Blumenschein, and Mabel Dodge Lujan, among others.
Inspired by several accomplished printmakers, including Gene Kloss, Doel Reed, John Sloan, and Gustave Baumann, who were living in New Mexico during the same period, Moskowitz began to experiment with lithography, His prints, full of shadow and light, are made up of fine lines and vivid forms. One of the most powerful of these lithographs, Storm, Taos Valley was awarded the First Purchase Prize by the Library of Congress in 1945. Moskowitz's mastery of evoking a mood, as opposed to a straightforward depiction of a scene, is clear.
The former Director of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art compared Moskowitz to both George Catlin and Alfred Jacob Miller for his ability to so accurately document local Indian cultures -- their daily routines and sacred ceremonies. An early series of drawings he completed on the American Indian were exhibited in 1944 at the Los Angeles County Museum's first show of drawings. Indeed, John Sloan noted that Moskowitz "approaches the Indian not with curiosity, but with friendliness, respect, and awe." That respect was mutual; Ira was often invited by local Indian elders to take part in public ceremonies and private healing rituals.
Today his etchings, lithographs and paintings are included in many major collections in Europe, the United States and Israel. These include the Library of Congress, Washington DC, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.
Religion and Jewish culture played a vital role in Ira Moskowitz's art. Isaac Bashevis Singer once said of Moskowitz; "Ira has recaptured the religious view of God and the world in his works."
This etching was commissioned by the Associated American Artists of New York in a limited edition of 100 impressions.The Associated American Artists commissioned original graphic art (lithograph and etching) from such great masters as Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, Reginald Marsh, Jack Levine, and others.