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Central State Hospital
re: John (Jan) Zwara - Central State Hospital (artwork #4952)

John (Jan) Zwara (1880-1951)

Central State Hospital (1938)

Watercolor on Paper
7 x 10 inches
Signed Lower Center-Right

This painting was featured in our weekly email on 1/20/17 along with the following gallery comments:

We featured a piece by Jan Zwara last week (since sold) and we’re doubling down with another this week. By way of summary, Zwara was a Hungarian immigrant trained in art. He settled in Indianapolis around 1930 and was essentially an itinerate painter. This wandering was likely the result of his mental health condition – untreated schizophrenia. Patronized by the Vonnegut family and at their urging, he spent six months at Central State Hospital in 1938. While there, he continued to paint at his typically ferocious pace. The output was entirely watercolor and gouache – no oils. Most of these paintings, which were landscapes featuring the hospital grounds, are now part of the Indiana Medical History Museum (still on the Central State property). Ten years ago, we had one outstanding Zwara Central State piece. And now we have another. Today’s work, Central State Hospital by Jan Zwara is a watercolor depicting the main hospital building and dated June, 1938 — coinciding with Zwara’s period of internment at that facility. The painting is strong. But of even more significance is the timing and the subject. As mentioned above, the Central State works by Zwara are extremely rare as most still reside at the Indiana Medical History Museum. And he was only a resident of the facility six months.

The anguished artist seems to so have our sympathy – Van Gogh, Gaugin, Pollock, etc. Zwara falls squarely into this paradigm. He painted to live and lived to paint. Without painting, his life would have been unordered and unintelligible (as it largely was anyway). Today’s work is extremely important in the context of his artistic career. A singular artistic document capturing all of the man, Jan Zwara.

The piece features quite a bit of pencil scribbles and notation (very typical of Zwara). It’s in flawless shape and is being sold unframed and loose. I understand the price is salty. If there is one Zwara to have in a collection of Indiana art, this is it.

Would you like more information about this artwork? Please contact us.

Gallery | John (Jan) Zwara

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