Item #16-5573 Original gouache poster design for the Broadway production of John Steinbeck's "The Moon is Down." [Partisan blowing up Nazi rail line.] Signed. Witold Gordon, Howard Bay, production designer, author John Steinbeck, Oscar Serlin, producer, 1902 -1968.

Original gouache poster design for the Broadway production of John Steinbeck's "The Moon is Down." [Partisan blowing up Nazi rail line.] Signed.

New York: Martin Beck Theatre,1942. Gouache in 7 colors on board. 70 x 51 cm......
Witold Gordon was a Polish-born American Art Deco painter best known for his murals in Radio City Music Hall completed in 1932. He painted a 6,000 square foot mural for the 1939 New York World's Fair and a series of New Yorker covers depicting the city in its recent past. He also designed the poster for the original Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! ...........Gordon was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1885 and studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. After he finished his studies, he moved to New York. He worked with Donald Deskey in the design of Radio City Music Hall where two of his murals are exhibited. He illustrated books, and designed the poster for the Olympic Games in Lake Placid, NY in 1933. In 1939 he created a painting for the New York Worlds' Fair. He traveled throughout the South and produced a series of paintings with the name "American Scene" which was exhibited in 1941 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. During his travels he painted in Gouache storefronts and housefronts that he felt showed the true face of America. In 1934 he was commissioned by Conde Nast to paint a series of "New York Shops" (New York Shops you Never See) which were published in Vanity Fair Magazine in July of 1934. In 1932 when Georgia O'Keefe accepted the commission to paint a mural in the Ladies' Room in Radio City Music Hall and abandoned it at the advice of her husband, Alfred Steiglitz who said "Ms. O'Keefe does NOT do bathrooms!", Witold Gordon was given the commission and painted two murals for Deskey's masterpiece.
Witold Gordon died in 1968........(1943)............
"Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat. Herd men, followers of a leader, cannot do that, and so it is always the herd men who win battles and the free men who win wars.”
― John Steinbeck, The Moon Is Down....The Moon is Down was John Steinbeck's second attempt at writing a novel in play form (Of Mice and Men was his first). It was composed while on assignment from the Foreign Information Service, a division of the Office of Strategic Services charged with combating Nazi propaganda. His original story, depicting a small American town invaded by enemy troops, was rejected by the FIS, who feared that it might demoralize the civilian public..... In his revised manuscript, published by Viking in 1942, Steinbeck kept the same plot but set it in an unnamed Scandinavian town rather than the United States. Despite mixed critical reception, the book was a remarkable public success, outselling The Grapes of Wrath two-to-one in pre-publication; it would eventually pass through 76 editions. Shortly after publication, the producer Oscar Serlin purchased the dramatic rights to The Moon is Down (Herman Shumlin initially bought them but passed them on, saying he “did not care for [The Moon is Down’s] politics.” Serlin, known for his production of “Life with Father,” accepted the challenge, believing Steinbeck’s play would attract a large audience. “The Moon is Down” premiered on Broadway in April 1942, starring Otto Kruger as Colonel Lanser and Ralph Morgan as Mayor Orden. Like the novel before it, the play was publicly adored but critically lambasted. Life magazine reported that it was “trumpeted louder than any literary event of the season,” while the critical consensus was that “Steinbeck was too easy on the Germans, too optimistic about the ultimate victory of the Allies, [and ultimately] too moralistic." Despite its initial Broadway run lasting only nine weeks, the play was immensely successful on the road and abroad, especially in London and Stockholm. Rather surprisingly, it was nominated for Best Play by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle and placed second.....

Provenance: From the estate of producer Oscar Serlin. Item #16-5573

Price: $1,500.00