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Swinging at the Savoy / At the Savoy

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Swinging at the Savoy
    • At the Savoy
  • Description

    Dance floor with caricatures of black couples dancing, musicians behind. 1941 Lithograph

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1941
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 315 millimetres
    • Width: 452 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Signed, dated, titled and annotated: "ED. 30"
  • Curator's comments

    Text from Stephen Coppel, 'The American Scene: Prints from Hopper to Pollock', with the assistance of Jerzy Kierkuc-Bielinski, BMP, 2008, no. 59.

    The Savoy Ballroom, on Manhattan's Lenox Avenue between 140th and 141st Street, became the most popular dance palace in Harlem after opening its doors in 1926. Dubbed 'the home of happy feet', the Savoy launched many black dance and jazz styles, including the swing dance bands of the 1930s made popular by Duke Ellington. Dehn was a keen jazz fan and frequented Harlem's clubs and dance houses. His Harlem nightclub lithographs are among his most frenzied compositions, provoking his friend and fellow artist, Guy Pène du Bois, to remark: 'The carnal sensation of the orgy on closer examination seemed more like a swirling mass of beef than like anything human' (Guy Pène du Bois, 'Adolf Dehn', Creative Art, no.9 (July 1931), p. 35; cited by Richard C. Cox in Lumsdaine and O'Sullivan, p. 12).

    Dehn here captures the hot, syncopated rhythms of the jazz beat through the angular postures of the dancing figures. To convey the energy of the jazz scene, he freely mixes various techniques, including rubbing, scraping and washes, as well as crayon work. This lithograph was printed in an edition of thirty by the Colorado printer Lawrence Barrett, whom Dehn got to know at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, where he taught during the summers from 1939 until 1942.


  • Bibliography

    • Lumsdaine+O'Sullivan 333 bibliographic details
  • Location

    American XXc Mounted Imp

  • Exhibition history

    2008 April-Sep, BM, The American Scene, cat. no.59
    2009 Feb-April, Nottingham, Djanogly Art Gallery, The American Scene
    2009 May-Aug, Brighton Museum & AG, The American Scene
    2009 Sep-Dec, Manchester, Whitworth AG, The American Scene

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


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Object reference number: PPA8031

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