Richter, Mischa

Richter, Mischa (1911-2001)

For some WPA artists, recognition of their talents came after the Federal Arts Project. Mischa Richter was one of these artists. He was born in 1911 in Kharkov, Ukraine. He recollected once that his “childhood house was filled with song and neighborhood streets filled with magicians and acrobats.” Daily he took French and German lessons from his governess, drew at a table next to a window, and played in Gogol Park. The Bolshevik Revolution changed the family’s life. Richter’s uncle was killed shortly after joining the Red Army. His father was appointed Commissar of the Waterworks of Kharkov but knew that the family would have to flee the country after Stalin came to power. Family in the Boston area implored them to immigrate. During this tense time Richter took art lessons from a tutor. In 1922 the Richters came to the United States via Poland. They were met at Ellis Island by cousins and settled in Boston. Mischa studied art at the Boston Museum School from 1929-1930. From there he went to Yale University studying under Eugene Savage. Graduating from Yale in 1934, he married another artist he had met at Yale, Helen Sinclair Annand, and the two went back to Boston. As part of the WPA in that city, Richter completed a fifty foot mural at the Boroughs Newsboy Foundation building acclaimed as the first narrative mural in the city. He began to develop his cartooning which he called “magazine art.” Between 1937 and 1942 he became the art director and produced anti-fascist cartoons for the left leaning, progressive newspaper, The New Masses. From 1940-41, he worked for the Connecticut WPA Federal Arts Project turning out a block print and seven easels. During his career his work was published in the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, This Week Magazine, Esquire, Penthouse, Ken Magazine, PM,Cavalcade and many more. In 1942 he joined The New Yorkeras a cartoonist and by his retirement in 2000, the magazine had published over 1,500 of them. He also did work for King Features and wrote and illustrated children books. It is important to note that he continued to paint and was influenced by the Abstract Expressionists. His wife died in 1992, and until his death in 2001, Richter continued to paint at his home in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

 

Sources: WPA Artist’s Work Card; AskART; Wolfgang Saxon, “Mischa Richter, 90, A New Yorker Regular,” New York Times, March 27, 2001; “Mischa Richter,” The Independent, April 7, 2001 atwww.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/mischa-richter-729002.html; Alan Bodian, “Mischa Richter-Profile of a Provincetown Legend” at www.lively-arts.com/humaninterest/2004/0403/richter.htm; “Mischa Richter” athttp://bershad.com/gb/artists/richter/index.html; Emma Ross, Richter, Mischa, (1910-2001) in the Provincetown Artist Registry atwww.provincetownartistregistry.com/R/richter_mischa.html.

Works of Art Listed in CT Archives’ database from Mischa Richter:

Cat: block print
Baby: watercolor
Green House: oil
Chinese Lady: oil
Men Going to Work: oil
Our House: oil
Country Road: gouache
White Ducks in a Pond: gouache
Richter, Mischa