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Denys Wortman

 (1887 - 1958)
Denys Jr Wortman was active/lived in Massachusetts, New York.  Denys Wortman is known for illustrator-cartoonist, genre, marine.

Denys Wortman

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Denys Wortman
The following biography is based on information from the web site

Denys Wortman VIII, son of the artist, gave permission to access information from that site, which he created in memory of his father and mother, Hilda Renbold Wortman.

Of this web site endeavor, the son of the artists writes: "I'm his son, the eighth in a line of Denys Wortmans, and for some of you a familiar face on the Vineyard and current owner of the home in which many of these cartoons were created. This is my attempt to share the collective works, wit, and insight of my father. In viewing his cartoons, one will find a striking resemblance to the plight of today's realities, reminding us all of the timeless humor of social and cultural mores."

Denys Wortman, member of the National Academy, was a celebrated cartoonist and prolific easel painter. He was born in Saugerties, New York in 1887, the descendant of early Dutch Huguenot settlers in America.Although he knew as a small boy that he wanted to be an artist, he studied engineering first, as a concession to his parents.

He then studied at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art with Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller, both of whom became noted social realists. He exhibited in the famous Armory Show of 1913, and in 1924, began work in New York City for "The World" newspaper, which later became "The World-Telegram and Sun." He stayed in this job until his retirement in 1954.

For thirty years, six days a week, Mr. Wortman produced a new drawing for "Metropolitan Movies", his newspaper cartoon depicting episodes in the lives of an assortment of colorful characters, the most notable being "Mopey Dick and the Duke." These characters were couple of lovable vagrants who commented on life in America from the Depression through World War II and into the early fifties. They are actors in the everyday drama of life, and their ingenious solutions to the problems of living in urban poverty are represented by Wortman with gentle, good natured humor. They have opinions on everything: politics and elections, taxes, strikes, food, work, even art museums. With innocence and a total lack of malice, they find harmony in the disorder of their lives that we can all envy.

Mr. Wortman lived and worked from his home on Martha's Vineyard from 1941 until his death in 1958. Many of his cartoon subjects came from impressions gleaned by his wife, Hilda, who would sit on park benches and listen to the conversations around her, reporting back to my father the phrases and conversations that she overheard.From these and other captions, he would create the image, the atmosphere and the surrounding that would communicate the idea visually.

Denys Wortman VIII concludes his biography by writing: "I'll leave you with a sentiment expressed by my father long ago --- and perhaps more prophetic than he could have imagined:

'So here we are, Mopey and me, sitting in the Present, enjoying the Past, looking into a Future that Time has already decided is in store for us, and wishing you, all of our friends, a very pleasant "So Long", and hoping we'll be seeing you again when Then catches up with Now. ' "

In 1953, artist Guy Pene du Bois wrote "A History of Denys Wortman," and included the following description:

"Wortman has the seeing eye, the feeling heart. The pain in our streets is no less real to him than their hurdy-gurdy laughter. He blends the two. He dips beneath the surface, and extracts the best and the worst of us. He reveals the pulsating town as it is, and as it always will be.Our salesgirls, our gamins, our park-bench crowds, our flappers, our rich and our poor are the materials for his robust, kindly philosophy. He is never bitter. He is always just. He takes Manhattan at its true worth, and gets it upon paper through the magic of pencil. He is not merely a "funny" man.Like all great humorists, he is also a great philosopher.

It is good to have so many of his drawings finally gathered together between the covers of a volume; and thousands of Manhattanites, as well as those who live elsewhere, will be grateful to him - grateful to this understanding artist who interprets our thrilling city to us day by day."

Addendum to the above from Denys Wortman VIII:

"In 1953 my dad and Thomas Hart Benton painted portraits of each other. Each
portrait is them painting each other. The two paintings are owned by the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, Connecticut. "Colliers" magazine of October 16, 1953 did an article about the two paintings.

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About  Denys Wortman

Born:  1887 - Saugerties, New York
Died:   1958 - NYC?
Known for:  illustrator-cartoonist, genre, marine

Essays referring to
Denys Wortman

New York Armory Show of 1913
Cartoon Drawing