Minsky’s New Gotham Chorus, 1936

Minsky’s New Gotham Chorus, 1936

Reginald Marsh
American 1898-1954

Minsky’s New Gotham Chorus, 1936
etching on wove paper
9 x 12 inches
Collection purchase
Syracuse University Art Galleries 1964.083
© The Art Students League of New York/ Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Minsky’s New Gotham Chorus describes the infamous Minsky Theater, a burlesque playhouse owned and operated by four Minsky brothers. The viewer is positioned in the audience observing a live performance from directly behind the orchestra. In the orchestra pit are four musicians whose darkened figures are seen from the back. They play at the feet of eight illuminated women performing on an elevated stage. To the right, two fashionably attired men converse in an exclusive, highly ornamented theater box.

Marsh shows a typical burlesque performance in all its unglamorous reality. The performers’ lack of coordination and their mechanical motions make them appear awkward, almost humorous. Presented this way, Marsh suggests the disturbing truth underlying this American entertainment, namely that these women have been objectified and commoditized by this male audience and by male society as a whole.

Christian Boss

 

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