Roland Ayers, Tower of Babel

Gouache on board
Credit Line
39 ¾ x 30 in.
Gift of Sheila Whitelaw, 2021

Tower of Babel is Biblical symbol of modern society as corrupt and verging on collapse. Ayers was likely inspired by the spiraling architectural form of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s famous paintings of the Tower of Babel, one of which is housed in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, a beautiful European city in the immediate orbit of Amsterdam, where Ayers lived for several extended periods.

Artists who were Ayers’s instructors at the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) often used biblical imagery to express ideas about contemporary times. Jerome Kaplan, a lifelong friend, was well known for his Old Testament subjects, as were Benton Spruance and Jacob Landau.


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