Object Record

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Object ID Number SAM 1959.102
Object Name painting
Artist Trova, Ernest
Title R. C. Brown
Date 1958
Culture American
Copyright Ernest Trova/ The Trova Studios, LLC
Credit line Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Daniel Longwell
Exhibit Label Ernest Tino Trova Jr. was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1927. He began drawing from a young age and was seriously drafting by 17. His father, an industrial tool designer, died shortly after his high school graduation, and Ernest went to work as a window dresser for a department store. From the beginning, Trova eschewed institutional art training, believing real art came from a combination of intuition and experience.

Trova is perhaps best remembered for creating an archetypal figural motif - the Falling Man - which he translated into paintings, prints, sculptures, books, and ephemera. In Springfield, he is linked to public sculpture; three of his abstract cor-ten steel works are installed within the city (two on the Museum's grounds and one at the entrance to the Pool Art Center at Drury University).

However, Trova was first a painter, inspired by the work of Willem de Kooning and Alberto Giacometti. He was also heavily influenced by blues and jazz music. In fact, Trova spent several months in the late 1950s painting to blues and jazz music, live, on stage at the Crystal Palace in Clayton, Missouri. He said, "In many ways its [art making] close to improvisation in jazz. You have a chord structure, you improvise on this chord, and you recreate over and over again. I am using the chords I know best."

"R.C. Brown" is from a series of works created during these nightly jazz sessions, featuring male figures and celebrities of pop culture. The title refers to Ray Charles Brown, an important blues singer and pianist whose self-described "blue ballads" were immensely popular in the 1940s and 50s.

The painting presents an abstracted portrait through a series of interlocking shapes in a reduced color palette of ochre and white. Although the title implies a formal portrait, this may more accurately represent the music itself, as interpreted through Trova's live gestural response to Brown's moody, mellow blues.
Medium casein
Material paper
Image size 35 3/4" H x 27 3/4" W
Height (in) 44
Width (in) 33
Signed Name "Trova 58"
Signature Location Recto: Lower Right Center
Currently on view Yes
People Ernest Trova
R. C. Brown
Subjects Portrait