5th Avenue in the Snow from Washington Square
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Born in Eastern Europe, Bela de Tirefort is best know for his softly muted views of New York City, often portrayed in the snow, rendered from the 1930s through the 1950s, and for his chairmanship of the semi-annual Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibition.
Held from 1916 through the mid-1940s, usually for several months at a time, this show was organized to both aid artists during times when war resulted in shortages of artists' supplies, such as linen canvases and brushes, and to support war efforts. De Tirefort explained in 1942 to a New York Tims reporter that the artists would not ration their products to the public, advancing the argument that "buying art was a patriotic act, since no war material was used in paintings and such purchases would help drain off surplus buying power as a safeguard against inflation."1 In 1943, forty artists contributed paintings that were given to purchasers of war bonds of $50 or more, and artists made sketches of those who purchased bonds of $25 or more. In 1945, many artists who were demobilized or on leave participated in the exhibition.
Among de Tirefort's favorite subjects were the Flatiron Building on Broadway at 23rd St., New York Harbor, and Washington Square.
De Tirefort retired to St. Petersburg, Florida.
1 "Outdoor Art Show Shuns War Themes," New York Times, October 10, 1942, p. 13