Irwin D. Hoffman
American (1901-1989)
The Lucky Play or La Loteria, 1933
Soft ground etching
5×8 IN.

Signed in pencil lower right: "Irwin D. Hoffman Imp"; titled in pencil lower left: "The Lucky Play -". Signed and dated in plate lower right: "Irwin D. Hoffman 33". A fine impression in fine condition, with full margins.
"Every night there was a game going on in every village--very picturesque. During one of these trips I was arrested. It was in the town of Mantes which gave a famous president to Mexico, Calles. His son was mayor of the town. There was a little provincial circus carrying on this night, and I was busy sketching it. Suddenly I felt guns pressed against my side; I thought, what the hell is this? Two policemen had me surrounded, and they said in Spanish, 'What are you doing here? You doing espionage?' I said, 'You must be crazy, you must be stupid.' 'Oh, we stupid, huh?' So they arrested me and they took me to jail. There was an American fruit buyer staying at the hotel where we were, and he went along with us. He said, 'Don't worry, Calles's son is a friend of mine and is the mayor and the judge here and runs the whole business.' But Calles's son was out on a hunting trip. A real fat Mexican peasant dressed with a collar button in his shirt--he had no collar, but he had a collar button--said to this Texan who was telling me what not to say, 'Now keep your mouth shut, don't make any remarks, I'll take care of it.' 'This man has insulted us,' the Mexican said. The Texan disagreed, 'No, he hasn't; he didn't mean to; he's an artist.' 'Oh,' he said, 'tell him to come tomorrow morning; I'll put him in your custody for tonight. He can go back to his hotel.' I went back the next morning to be sentenced, and the judge was a little warmer. And the American said, 'Now is the time to suggest that you'd like to do a portrait drawing of him.' And my friend advised me in sotto voce, 'For crissakes, make him look handsome.' I got out of that one by making this moron very handsome. Pleased, the judge said, 'Thank you very much. Don't ever do this again without our permission. Any time you want to draw here, come to us and we will give you permission.' I learned that at the time the Mexican artist Siqueiros was arrested in Los Angeles for leading a Communist procession. This apparently was Mexico's answer to America." (commentary by Irwin D. Hoffman in "Irwin D. Hoffman: An Artist's Life," Boston Public Library 1982.)

$ 600