(Acrylic on recycled cardboard)
Régrette’s work represents the surrealistic side of the Depressionist movement. Despite his Frenchified nom de brosse, he was actually a bartender from Perth Amboy, New Jersey, who longed to break away from his pedestrian surroundings (his driver’s license was revoked in 1914, forcing him to walk everywhere).
Régrette originally did clowns on velvet, but he failed to find an audience among the tourists who visited Perth Amboy (usually when they took the wrong turn to Atlantic City). Then one day he was reading a borrowed copy of Popular Paintist when he came across the famous surrealist painting, “A Chance Encounter Between a Sewing Machine, an Umbrella, and a Dissecting Table in the Middle of a Forest.” He abruptly realized that clowns on velvet were not the wave of the future as he had previously thought, and he immediately sold his rolls of velvet and bought several yards of material from a used cardboard store.
His first work, “A Hot Date with a Cash Register, a Pincushion, and Some Leftover Salami on Pier 16,” was considered derivative, but his second, “Guy in a Derby Hat with Parsnips Up His Nose” was purchased by the Perth Amboy Landfill Commission for its maintenance shed.
The work presented here is a later attempt by Régrette to cash in on the Christmas card trade. Others in the series, “Ceci n’est pas un Renne" (This is Not a Reindeer), “The Listening Chimney,” and “The Sugarplum Condition,” are collectively known as Régrette’s Financially Stressed period.