Charles Turzak (1899-1986) was born in a coal town not too far from Chicago, in Illinois. His father, an immigrant miner from Czechoslovakia, had envisioned a professional career for his son. When young Charles won a cartoon contest sponsored by The Purina Company, upon his graduation from high school in 1920, it led him to the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Turzak paid his way through art education, and his early talent for drawing and wood carving turned his attention to the creation of woodcuts.Immediately upon graduating, Charles Turzak started to make a living as a printmaker. He created woodcuts both of illustrational purposes and as fine arts objects. He seemed to do well enough to travel extensively through Europe in 1929, and to marry upon his return, despite the depression.The rapidly developing city of Chicago was overwhelming his artistic muse in these early years. While landmarks of the city define his oeuvre in large part, history, social commentary, figures, and landscapes also increasingly became a part of it.Today mostly remembered for his strong modernist line of the 1920s and 1930s, his abstract compositions, created from the 1950s onward, also deserve attention. Turzak managed to make a living for himself and his family as an artist, through the depression era, World War II and beyond. He is today regarded as one of the great independent early modernist printmakers in the Unites States.
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