Edward Burra’s vivacious and gently satirical depiction of jazz fans lounging and listening to records epitomises a particular aspect of New York life in the late 1920s. Burra spent time in the city at the time, particularly in Harlem, where he became fascinated by jazz culture. His drawing is composed of sinuous lines that perfectly capture the languid poses of the figures, and the seductive tempo of the music. One woman drapes herself suggestively over a chaise longue, while dressed in a tassled gown, and a cigarette between her lips, changes the record. The relaxed poses of the women and the one man sitting at a table, suggest they are in a private setting, rather than a club, although the glamour of the moment is not lost in their kohl-lined eyes, dark lipstick and high heels.
Edward Burra lived for most of his life at his parents' house in Rye, Sussex. In spite of poor health he loved to travel. He visited France and America frequently and also went to Italy, Spain and Mexico. He was drawn to human eccentricities, vivid popular culture and scenes from the seamy side of life. Burra produced some satiric work somewhat in the manner of the German artist George Grosz. Both the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War caused Burra deep distress and a violent, almost sadistic atmosphere crept into his work. He also began to paint religious pictures. From the late 1950s until his death, Burra painted strange, slightly sinister landscapes of places around the UK including Rye.
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