What is it?


Theodore Czebotar (1915–1996)


Embrace of Love


c. 1961


Oil on canvas


30 x 40 in.

Credit line

Gifted 2018, The Theodore Czebotar Collection, LLC, and the Kohler Foundation

About the Work


Nature was a perennially favorite subject for Milwaukee-born artist Theodore Czebotar. Dropping out of high school in the early 1930s, he traveled extensively to the West Coast, where his love for the natural world truly began—the more rugged the better. Czebotar and his wife, Els Snapper, established their home in Fishkill, New York, where he befriended Marshall Glasier who had been a leading light in Wisconsin’s Magic Realism/Surrealism movement.

Beginning in the 1950s, Czebotar and Snapper made an annual pilgrimage to the state of Washington, where the harsh, bleak solitude of the Olympic Peninsula proved to be his most inspiring muse. The desolation, mist and rain, and the mounds of driftwood that littered the shorelines entranced him. Filling notebook after notebook with drawings and sketches, he would return to Fishkill to turn them into finished paintings in which the former trees took on a new life as sculpture rather than nature’s flotsam.

Embrace of Love depicts two pieces of driftwood shorn of all foliage and reduced to skeletal remains on a deserted shoreline. Czebotur took this unpromising material and in a painting that initially seems simple in both composition and palette, created a complex scene, imbuing the two logs with a dynamism that suggests they are alive and joined in an embrace.