Francis Criss
1901 - 1973
Often known for precise urbanscape, genre, surreal

A painter known for his combining of precisionism and surrealism, Francis Criss was a student from 1917 to 1921 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and later of Jan Matulka at the Art Students League in New York. He received his first significant attention at the 1932 Whitney Museum's First Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting. In 1934, supported by Charles Sheeler, he earned a Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship and traveled to Europe, where he created "Fascism," one of his best-known works. From 1935 to 1939, he was a teacher and muralist in New York for the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration and was one of the artists who worked on the mural painting for the Williamsburg Housing Project in Brooklyn. During the 1940s, he did much commercial illustration, and then returned to fine art in the 1950s and 60s, experimenting with Pointillism and a series of collages.
Click here to see even more samples of his work. ~Zeyda, Yale, Dad all

Colonel Samuel R. Rosenbaum

For Every Mother's Son (1942)


Indian Theme

Portrait of the artist (mr. Whiffen)

Untitled (Surrealist composition)

Morning in Florence

Alma Sewing

A Full Table

Tabletop Still Life

Window Reflections #2

Still Life And Figure

WPA 1939 - City Landscape

View of Brooklyn Heights
The long lost City Landscape oil painting by Francis Criss, which was shown on the "Antiques Roadshow" segment, Lost New Deal Artwork, that featured GSA's New Deal Art recovery project, has been located. It was found by a GSA employee "buried with other artifacts (nothing significant)" in the corner of their lighting room in the Birch Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. ... The Office of Inspector General has contacted the FBI to have the painting removed from the National Stolen Art File. The painting is scheduled to be transported to Washington, DC, and GSA will have a conservator review its condition. GSA will also begin to research possible museums that may have an interest in borrowing the painting.
Bird of Prey                                                  Jefferson Market                                                   Under Construction

Woman With Sculpture

Classic Screen

Day Shift

T. W. Coal

El Station


Mural Study

At The Table

Tints In Red

Norman Kirk & His Staff

Criss was an exponent of a school of painting called “precisionist” that blended the figurative (realistic) and the abstract in the 1930’s. He was reduced by finances to teaching and commercial art in the 40’s. This is strictly a commission piece, yet it shows a firm grasp of fine art’s intellectual conventions. This painting shows the representation of the figures with almost photographic clarity. What is abstract about the painting is that the “meeting” being portrayed never happened. These were busy guys. The moment in time captured with them all crowded into the same office was highly unlikely. I also doubt that the Capitol dome was visible from Kirk’s window. Criss used it as an architectural icon to place the scene in Washington. Norman Kirk is clearly the dominant figure in the composition, commanding the attention of all those present, yet Criss shows him sitting. I suspect that the pose was used intentionally to downplay Kirk’s diminutive stature.

Inspecting Food

Making Typhoid Vaccine

Malaria Control

Mind Reader

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