"Hide and Seek" by Pavel Tchelitchew

For years, this was my favorite painting. It hung at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and as a teenager and into my 20s I used to go into the city and stand in front of it for what seems in my memory to have been hours, losing myself in the dozens of childen surrounding and defining and blending into and growing out of Tchelitchew's tree of life.

Somewhere along the line, the painting was taken off display, and I was disappointed not to be able to show it to Becca when I took her to MoMA specifically to see it. In 2002, though, I found the image reproduced on a poster available for purchase on the MoMA website and marked down to a lousy three bucks — so I ordered four of them, hung one above my bed and figured that sooner or later I'd run into three other people who like "Hide and Seek" as much as I do and be able to make them a present of it. (I have in fact since given the extra copies away, and, as of April 2008, the poster is sadly no longer available online.)

I don't know much about Tchelitchew's life or work. There's some information and a couple of reproductions here — and there's one of his works on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art. About once a year, I get an email from some stranger who remembers "Hide and Seek" as fondly as I do, Googles it and is led to my website. In March 2008, Joni Lohr sent me a link to information about another Tchelitchew painting I'd never seen before, the beautiful "Adam's Grave." Thanks, Joni!

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