Moonlight Shanties, c. 1940s, oil on canvas, 24 x 18 inches, signed lower right, signed and titled verso
About the Painting
In Moonlight Shanties, Joachim depicts a lower-class neighborhood sitting along-side an elevated road or railway which crowds out the small nearby houses and structures. Joachim’s use of an expressionist palette and gestural brushstrokes together with the isolated figures obscured in the shadows, create a feeling of unease, isolation and even loneliness. From the 1920s through 1940s, American artists commonly employed expressionist conventions in their social realist works which portrayed the gritty side of urban America, especially the communities of the city-dwelling poor. Expressionist styles were considered appropriate for bridging the gap between the modernist idea of art-for-art’s-sake and the narrative qualities demanded by the dual crises of the Great Depression and World War II. Moonlight Shanties successfully uses these expressionist methods to portray a neighborhood and its people who appear to be literally and figuratively “on the edge.”
About the Artist
Paul Lamar Joachim achieved success as an artist, gallery owner and military officer. He was born in Washington, DC and studied painting at the National Art School. Joachim was also a Naval Academy cadet, who graduated from Annapolis in 1934. He initially pursued a career in the Navy, where he served during World War II as a communications officer for the 7th Fleet, and during the Korean War, he served as executive officer of the battleship New Jersey and won a combat bronze star. Joachim achieved the rank of rear admiral before retiring from the Navy in 1954. While serving in the Navy and afterwards, Joachim pursued a parallel career as a painter. His works were widely exhibited, including at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (1951), the National Gallery of Art (1951, 1952), the Arts Club of Washington (1952), the Springfield Museum of Art (1957) and the Norfolk Museum of Art & Science (1953, 1954 - where he won the Irene Leach Memorial Prize). During the 1950s, Joachim became an art dealer in Chicago where he operated the eponymous Paul Joachim Gallery until his untimely death in 1962 at the age of 50. Joachim was murdered as he was returning home from the ballet. An interested footnote is that Joachim’s unsolved murder made national news and has been tied by some conspiracy theorists to the assignation of John F Kennedy. Joachim is listed in Who was Who in American Art.