THE name of Moses Dykaar was almost forgotten by the Jews until a scandal brought it back to public attention. It is the sad story of a great Jewish sculptor who killed himself last March because he had nothing to live on, and whose work has been exploited by a racketeer after his death.
Dykaar was regarded as one of the foremost sculptors in America. He made striking portraits of Presidents Harding and Coolidge, Champ Clark, Nicholas Longworth, Edwin Markham, Alexander Graham Bell, Samuel Gompers, Abraham Cahan, General George C. Squier, General John J. Pershing, Louis D. Brandeis, Stephen S. Wise, Joseph Barondess and many other notables. For a time Dykaar was successful also financially. Then came the depression and within a short time all his savings were exhausted. He and his family suffered dire privations.
He was an idealist. He was absorbed in his art and paid but little heed to the commercial value of his great work. He often worked for weeks and months on busts of people he liked, even though he knew that these would yield him no financial returns. He was the most unassuming, modest man among the artists.
Shortly before his tragic death a promoter came to him with an offer to purchase his bust of General Pershing and present it to the nation. General Squier was wiling to help raise the sum of $5,000 for the Pershing bust among twenty-five prominent and wealthy Americans. But the promoter, Alfred M. Layton, advanced no funds to the artist, and Dykaar in despair committed suicide by throwing himself under a subway train.
Now it is revealed by the arrest of Layton that the promoter had exploited the names of Dykaar and of General Squier and collected a large sum from Charles G. Dawes, Alfred E. Smith, Andrew W. Mellon, Adolph S. Ochs and many others. Only a trifling sum was sent monthly by Layton to the sculptor’s widow and two small children.
It is a sad commentary on the greatest Jewish community in the world that outstanding Jewish artists are not only not encouraged, but are often ignored and neglected, and that in this particular instance it required the suicide of Dykaar and now the scandalous exploitation of his work to remind us that we had in our midst a very great artist who was neglected by his people.