"Indian Dance" is a relief print, a color woodcut, printed in 1944. The image measures 12 x 19-9/16 inches and it is pencil signed, dated, and editioned 15 of 25. It was hand printed by the artist on a sheet of thin ivory wove Japanese paper. Reference for this woodcut is Brooklyn Museum 62.
Schanker was known for his unorthodox and creative approach to the color woodcut. Printing with oil-based inks he would often print a second, third or fourth color before the previous ones had dried, creating a merging of the color on the paper and making each impression unique, a monoprint. This impression has rich color, printed on a thin wove paper.
He was born in New York City in 1903 to parents of Romanian descent. In 1919, Schanker was enrolled in night classes at Cooper Union but the following year he left New York and lived a vagrant lifestyle. After two years he returned to study at the Educational Alliance and the Art Students’ League. He spent 1931 and 1932 in Europe traveling and studying at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris and came back "something of a Cubist." In 1935, Schanker explored the medium of the woodcut, melding his ideas for sculpture and colors. Later in the same decade he worked on mural projects for the Federal Works Progress Administration and was made director of the graphic arts division of the WPA in New York City.
Schanker was also a founder of the American Abstract Artists and participated in its first annual exhibition in 1937. But a decade later he wrote: "Though much of my work is generally classified as abstract, all of my work develops from natural forms. I have great respect for the forms of nature and an inherent need to express myself in relation to those forms." Schanker taught for many years, first at the New School for Social Research where his students shared their studio with Stanley William Hayter‘s Atelier 17, and then, from 1949 until his retirement, at Bard College.