Victory Dinner (1973)
Oil on canvas
68.0 x 44.0 x 0.0
University Club of Chicago
Born to Jewish immigrants on ChicagoХs West Side, Rosofsky received his BFA in 1949 and MFA in 1951 from the Art Institute of Chicago. He simultaneously completed humanities courses at the University of Chicago and at Northwestern University.
At the SAIC, Rosofsky studied under Boris Anisfeld, a former student of Marc ChagallХs, known for his traditional painting techniques and classical figure study. Introduced to the Surrealist-oriented Galerie de Dragon by his friend the expatriate Chicago painter Irving Petlin, Rosofsky ventured into absurd, often disturbing imagery.
His sources ranged from Goya and Vel€squez to his own personal experiences during the Great Depression and World War II. Rosofsky received received a Fulbright Fellowship in 1958, allowing him to live in Rome. A Guggenheim Foundation grant brought Rosofsky and his family to Paris in 1962. Rosofsky taught at the Chicago City College from 1964 until his death in 1981.
Victory Dinner (1973) is an oil on canvas from the midpoint in Rosofsky’s career.
The mysterious scene looks in on a formal dinner party of multiple guests arranged around a long, rectangular table. The viewer is oriented looking in on the scene, which is framed by arched molding that curves across the top edge of the composition and brown molding angled at the bottom.
The dinner party is a confusing compilation of lavish formality and humorous details. Eight formally dressed guests sit snugly around the yellow table, which is adorned with six tall glasses containing pink ice cream like dessert, each carefully topped with a cherry.
Not every guest’s place setting has a dessert glass but each has an empty blue plate. At one head of the table, farthest from the viewer, sits an older male guest adorned in a red military jacket and displaying a strong air of confidence. But at the other end of the table is a place setting with no chair or guest.
Is the empty setting offered to the viewer, or is the dinner party patiently waiting for their final guest to arrive? Crowded on the left side of the table are two older male and female couples adorned in formal attire but passively sitting and stoically disconnected from one another.
On the right side of the table sits two dark, almost featureless, silhouetted figures and one older, monochrome, all-white female figure. The silhouetted figures orient the source of light in the room, which comes from the left side and also enhances an air of mystery across the dinner party.
The overall decadent formality of the guests and environment contrasts with the harsh, at times clashing, color palette of the composition, which can be seen throughout the guests’ clothing, table linens, and room décor.
The event may carry an air of wealth, but the color palette is as unwelcoming as the guests’ dismal dispositions. Rosofsky also employs texture and thick brush strokes to accent the unharmonious nature of the scene.
Thick applications of visible paint strokes build-up the figure’s clothes and skin throughout the dining room. This formal quality also accents the expression of age across the guests’ faces.
Rosofsky invites the viewer to peer in on a very formal scene juxtaposed by unflattering color palettes and obscured space.The empty place at the head of the dinner table might be for the viewer, but is this a party that one wants to attend?