Ernest Trova – (February 19, 1927 – March 8, 2009)
was a self-trained American surrealist and pop art painter and sculptor. Best known for his signature image and figure series, The Falling Man, Trova considered his entire output a single "work in progress." Trova used classic American comic character toys in some of his pieces because he admired their surrealism. Many of Trova's sculptures are cast in unusual white bronze. He began as a painter, progressing through three-dimensional constructions to his mature medium, sculpture. Trova's gift of forty of his works led to the opening of St. Louis County, Missouri's Laumeier Sculpture Park.
He worked at the Famous-Barr department store as a decorator and window dresser. A self-taught artist, Morton D. May, an art collector who later served as chairman of The May Department Stores Company (which owned the store he worked at), bought one of his paintings and contributed it to the Museum of Modern Art.
As a 20-year-old, his painting Roman Boy, the first work he exhibited in his career, was awarded first prize in the Missouri Exhibition conducted at what was then known as the City Art Museum (now the St. Louis Art Museum). Roman Boy described as a provocative "sexually graphic work", alternatively "scandalized or energized" critics and the public, and earned the work a picture in Life magazine, earning him a degree of recognition that was unusual for an artist from St. Louis.
He started showing his art during the early years of the Pace Gallery, which later became "one of the most powerful art galleries in the world". Some of his first art was acquired by the collections of the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, as well as by the St. Louis Art Museum in his hometown and by Tate in London.
The Falling Man
Created in 1964, The Falling Man, is Trova's best known work. His "Falling Man" series of works, "about man at his most imperfect", featured an armless human figure, that appeared in sculptures, paintings and prints. In an interview that year with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he described the piece as "a personal hypothetical theory on the nature of man". Trova further stated that "I believe that man is first of all an imperfect creature. The first reaction I usually get to this is that I'm pessimistic. I don't think I am.... It's very close to many theories of man — the Catholic view that man is a fallen creature, for example."
Trova created multiple versions of The Falling Man, including variant sculptures and wristwatches with images of the piece. This led to charges of commercialism and critiques that the piece was period kitsch. An associate of Trova's rejected the criticism, noting that the duplicate works was an example of seriality, in which "Trova invented this great symbol of human fallibility through processing and reprocessing the image. Trova's work is misunderstood. Seriality is as essential to his work as it was to Warhol's. One of his earliest statements about 'Falling Man' was that all of it — all the sculptures, all the paintings, all the prints — were one work in his own mind.
Original Silkscreen - Hand signed in pencil by the artist.
Limited edition - Dated 1964