Men Seldom Make Passes



Men Seldom Make Passes


Minna Wright Citron
American, 1896–1991




Soft-ground etching, engraving, aquatint, and gauffrage with stencil


Plate: 14-15/16 x 9-1/4 in. (38 x 23.6 cm), sheet: 19-1/16 x 12-7/8 in. (48.6 x 32.8 cm)


Minna Citron was born in 1896 in Newark, New Jersey, and received her formal training in painting in New York City, at the School of Applied Design for Women and then at the Art Students League. In the 1930s, she became widely known and respected for her social realism, capturing in particular the urban life in and around Union Square, where, starting in 1934, she maintained a studio. Her work shifted significantly, though, toward abstraction when she began working at Atelier 17 in the mid-1940s. Men Seldom Make Passes represents one of her first attempts in this direction.

The print was titled after the first line of Dorothy Parker’s typically brief poem “News Item,” which had appeared in several New York papers before it was published in the author’s 1926 collection Enough Rope:

Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses.

Citron presents the partially abstracted figure of a bespectacled woman, appearing very much in the manner that the artist posed in a self-portrait from the early 1930s, painting at an easel within her studio. By employing only the first half of the poem to title the work, it is not entirely clear whether Citron is merely agreeing with Parker’s assessment of women wearing glasses or if she is also suggesting that men might not tend to be attracted to female artists.

The text for this label has been adapted in part from an unpublished essay by former Penn State art history graduate student Barbara Kutis (MA 2007).


Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, Gift of G. W. Einstein Company, Inc.




This image is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. Other uses are not permitted.

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