Oct 08, 2009 - Sale 2189

Sale 2189 - Lot 24

Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
CALVIN BURNETT (1921 - 2007)
6:45 a.m.

Pen and ink on cream wove paper, 1943. 585x464 mm; 23x18 1/4 inches. Signed and dated in ink, lower right. Titled and numbered "#1" in blue pencil, lower left.

Provenance: collection of the artist; private collection.

Having just graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1942, Calvin Burnett made a series of pen and ink drawings of scenes around the Navy shipyard where he worked during World War II. Burnett describes in fascinating detail a very similar scene in an interview in the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art:

"I was still an artist, you know, and still thinking of myself only as an artist. And I carried that into my bilge cleaning and tank cleaning. I was assigned to the riggers shop as a laborer...we'd go in these tanks and these tanks would come in, the ships would have holes in them and decks blown off, this sort of thing, and we'd have to go in clean up and fix these things. ...The thing I actually did was to develop a kind of visual memory that allowed me to go to work every day in these conditions and come home and draw big pictures of them."

Ironically, once drafted, Burnett was unable to serve in the military due to poor eyesight, and returned to the naval yard.