Jacob Landau, 83, artist shown in major museums

Posted: December 02, 2001

Jacob Landau, 83, a Philadelphia-born illustrator, printmaker and painter who belonged to a generation of artists whose social consciousness was shaped by the Depression and World War II, died Nov. 24 of pneumonia at North Penn Hospital.

He had lived in Roosevelt, N.J., near Trenton.

Mr. Landau's works are included in the collections of many museums in the United States and abroad, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Woodmere Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, and museums in France and Germany.

He also designed the stained-glass windows adorning Keneseth Israel Synagogue in Elkins Park, completed in 1974.

Mr. Landau's creative eye often fixed on heroic themes that involved the nature of man. He used the human figure to present the dignity of man or protest the violation of that dignity. For instance, one of his lithographs, from his Dante Suite, is of bodies impaled on giant thorns. Another image shows a prisoner, tied to a stake, being bayoneted. He also produced a color lithograph relating to the Biblical story of the prophet Elijah.

A child prodigy, he attended art classes at the Graphic Sketch Club - later to become the Fleisher Art Memorial - while a student at Sulzberger Junior High School.

While a student at Overbrook High School, he began to illustrate books and won a number of awards from Scholastic magazine. As a senior, he landed his first professional job, a commission to illustrate the book The Secret of the Blue Macaw by Izola Forrester. He graduated in 1936.

He went on to study at the Philadelphia College of Art, now the University of the Arts. After graduating in 1939, he moved to New York, where he worked as an office boy for Jewish Day and painted in his spare time.

He was drafted into the Army in 1943 and served for three years. He then spent a year at the New School for Social Research in New York. He spent the next three years in France, studying at the Academie Julian and the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. His first one-man show was in Paris in 1952.

In 1953, he returned to New York for another year of study at the New School, then came back once more to Philadelphia, where he taught anatomy, graphics and illustration at the Philadelphia College of Art.

In 1957, he became an instructor at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he served as chairman of the department of graphic arts from 1964 to 1968. He retired as a full professor about 10 years ago.

Mr. Landau won a number of awards during his career, including the Philadelphia Print Club's Lessing Rosenwald Prize in 1955 and 1959. He also won the watercolor prize from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1963.

Mr. Landau is survived by sons Stephen and Jonas and four grandchildren. His wife of many years, Frances, died in 1995.

Graveside services were held last week at Roosevelt Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at Princeton Theological Seminary, 20 Library Place in Princeton, N.J.

Rusty Pray's e-mail address is rpray@phillynews.com.

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