Sol Landau's sculpture was greatly influenced by his childhood on New York City's Lower East Side. Born in New York in 1919, he remained a lifelong resident of that area until his death in 2008. As a child, he worked with clay; as an adult, he whittled, but it was not until his retirement from the New York Department of Parks that he turned to carving as a full-time activity. Classes at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 1976 sharpened his skills, but he remained essentially unschooled.
His sculpture grew out of his experience in a close knit Jewish family and neighborhood. Works like The Rabbi evoke community traditions, while more personal examples, such as Memories - in which a housewife pauses in her labors to look wistfully at a family photograph - call to mind the births, deaths, and departures that are part of all human existence. And The Hora recalls some of the more joyous moments we all celebrate. That Sol could capture in sculptured forms the fleeting passions and expressions tells much of the quality and depth of his work.
The artist's work tells much about the artist. He always felt himself to be shy and somewhat introverted, and his figures reflect this, enabling him, as he saw it, to bring out "a lot of feelings I couldn't express in words." But he also had a close family life and this is reflected in his group sculptures. Sol's figures are sculpted from softwood, usually pine or bass. Bodies are modeled in a single piece, limbs are done separately then doweled or glued to the body. The figures are then painted with acrylics. Many are mounted on bases that accommodate other elements of the composition, such as desks, tables and chests. The broad, flat faces have an almost totemic quality, quite in contrast with the mundane tasks the figures are often performing but the tasks are often as much symbolic as functional.
Sol was represented by the Jay Johnson America's Folk Heritage Gallery until its closing. His work also appeared in the book "American Folk Art of the Twentieth Century" by Jay Johnson and William C. Ketchum Jr.
Most of his work remains in private collections and in the American Folk Art Museum, Bath, England. However, a limited number of pieces from his private collection are available. If interested please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.