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Bowery Follies

Adolf Dehn’s Bowery Follies features a view of the infamous Sammy’s Bowery Follies, “a dingy, crowded place” operated by Sammy Fuchs, in New York City. The artist provides a scene inside the bar and shows three couples seated at tables covered in white tablecloths in the immediate foreground. According to Lifemagazine, the floor of Sammy’s was caked sawdust, and the entertainment featured vaudeville performers. The couples in the foreground represent typical characters, the “uptown” crowd, and not the heavy-drinking Bowery “locals” also often seen at the establishment.

Dehn makes use of bright, primary colors—red, blue, and yellow—to convey the spirit and vitality of Sammy’s. Many of Dehn’s prints and paintings closely resemble the images of the German-born social realist George Grosz from the interwar years in Berlin in terms of style, line, and subject matter. Dehn created art that often presented everyday life tinged with irony, humor, and social critique.

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