Irean E. Gordon

b. Chicago, 1912–d, Valparaiso, IN, 1982

Relatively little is known about modernist painter Irean Gordon. She was born in Chicago in 1912 and studied with Todros Geller. She worked for the Works Progress Administration easel program in Illinois and exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1941–42 and again in 1948. Gordon lived in Chicago with her husband, Leo Gordon, whom she married in 1935. She remained active in her later years, and died of cancer in 1982.

Women Washing Clothes, painted in 1935, typifies American Scene painting in its romanticized view of an urban back alley, which conveys the feeling of a small town within the large city. We can infer that the woman pictured has just come out of her row house, leaving the door open, to hang her clean wash on the line in the adjacent yard. The buildings are crowded together and rendered with wobbly, unstable lines. Even the stairways have awkward angles, and suggest the influence of expressionism, while the city’s skyscrapers lurk in the background. It’s an enigmatic juxtaposition of everyday life in the modern metropolis.

Lisa Meyerowitz



Ask Art. Biographical information courtesy of Jeffrey Gordon;

Sokol, David. Engaging with the Present: The Contribution of the American Jewish Artists Club to Modern Art in Chicago 1928–2004, Exh. cat. Spertus Museum. Chicago: Spertus Press, 2004.

Yochim, Louis Dunn. Harvest of Freedom: A Survey of Jewish Artists in America. Chicago: American References, 1989.

WORKS BY Irean E. Gordon