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Article

Kenneth W. Prescott

(b Erie, PA, May 23, 1930).

American painter, printmaker and sculptor. He trained at the Cleveland Institute of Art in Cleveland, OH (1948–53), and under Albers family, §1 at the Yale University School of Art and Architecture in New Haven, CT (1953–5). In his paintings of the late 1940s and early 1950s he depicted everyday city life, as in The Bridge (1950; artist’s priv. col., see Lunde, pl. 66). In 1957 he moved to New York, where from 1957 to 1958 he worked as a conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and from 1959 to 1961 as a silver designer for Tiffany and Co. During this period he began to produce abstract paintings, using either organic or geometric repeated forms, as in Winter Recipe (1958; New York, Mr and Mrs David Evins priv. col., see Lunde, pl. 100). These led in the early 1960s to asymmetric and imperfectly geometric works, such as ...

Article

Henry Adams

(b Neosho, MO, April 15, 1889; d Kansas City, MO, Jan 19, 1975).

American painter, illustrator, and lithographer. One of the most controversial personalities in American art, both in his lifetime and today, Thomas Hart Benton was a key figure in the American Regionalist movement of the 1930s, when he focused on working-class American subject-matter and was outspoken in his denunciation of European modern painting. Today he is best remembered for this phase of his life, and much criticized because of it. But Benton’s long career is not easily reduced to a single moment or achievement: his legacy was more complex. As a young struggling artist in Paris and New York, he was a leading American modernist and abstractionist, and in his early maturity he became the teacher and lifelong father figure for Jackson Pollock, the most famous of the Abstract Expressionists. He was also a major American writer, who wrote on art and whose autobiography of 1936 became a best-seller. He was also a notable figure in American music who collected American folk songs and devised a new form of harmonica notation that is still in use....

Article

Cécile Whiting

(b Philadelphia, Dec 7, 1892; d New York, June 24, 1964).

American painter and printmaker (see fig.). He was born into an artistic family: his parents studied with Thomas Anshutz at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and his father was the art editor at the Philadelphia Press, a newspaper that included among its employees the Robert Henri circle of artist–reporters. Davis studied art under Henri in New York between 1909 and 1912. His earliest works, which chronicle urban life in the streets, saloons and theatres, are painted with the dark palette and thickly applied brushstrokes typical of the Ashcan school style inspired by Henri. Davis also published illustrations in the left-wing magazine The Masses between 1913 and 1916, and in The Liberator, which succeeded it in the 1920s.

With his contribution of five watercolours Davis was one of the youngest exhibitors at the Armory Show, the international exhibition of modern art that opened in New York in 1913...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1905, in Pendleton (Oregon); died July 1970, in Long Island.

Painter, sculptor, engraver.

Action Painting, Post-painterly Abstraction.

American Abstract Artists (AAA).

John Millard Ferren worked as an artisan sculptor in San Francisco after initial studies in Los Angeles. He only began to paint in ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 25 June 1923, in San Mateo (California); died 4 November 1994, in Santa Monica (California).

Painter (including gouache), watercolourist, lithographer, sculptor.

Post-painterly Abstraction.

Sam Francis studied medicine and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Called up during the war, he served in the USA Army Air Corps ...

Article

Anna Moszynska

(b San Mateo, CA, June 25, 1923; d Santa Monica, CA, Nov 4, 1994).

American painter and printmaker. Following an accident leading to spinal tuberculosis while serving in the US Army Air Corps, he started to paint for distraction in 1944, studying privately under David Park in 1947. He subsequently relinquished his earlier medical studies in favour of painting, completing his BA (1949) and MA (1950) at the University of California at Berkeley. During this period he experimented with different styles of painting, notably Surrealism and the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and particularly Clyfford Still. His own style emerged in 1949–50; in Opposites (1950; Tokyo, Idemitsu Mus. A.), for example, dripping, corpuscular shapes painted in fluid red circulate freely around the canvas, indicating what was to become a perennial concern with ‘ceaseless instability’. With its sensitivity to sensuous colour and light, Francis’s work was already showing very different concerns from the expressive iconography and energy of many of the Abstract Expressionists....

Article

Anna Moszynska

(b San Mateo, CA, June 25, 1923; d Santa Monica, CA, Nov 4, 1994).

American painter and printmaker. Following an accident leading to spinal tuberculosis while serving in the US Army Air Corps, Francis started to paint for distraction in 1944, studying privately under David Park in 1947. He subsequently relinquished his earlier medical studies in favor of painting, completing his BA (1949) and MA (1950) at the University of California at Berkeley. During this period he experimented with different styles of painting, notably Surrealism and the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and particularly Clyfford Still. His own style emerged in 1949–50; in Opposites (1950; Tokyo, Idemitsu Mus. A.), for example, dripping, corpuscular shapes painted in fluid red circulate freely around the canvas, indicating what was to become a perennial concern with “ceaseless instability.” With its sensitivity to sensuous color and light, Francis’s work was already showing very different concerns from the expressive iconography and energy of many of the Abstract Expressionists....

Article

American, 20th century, female.

Born 12 December 1928, in New York. Died 27 December 2011, Darien, Connecticut.

Painter, lithographer.

Action Painting, Colour Field Painting, Post-painterly Abstraction.

Second School of New York.

Helen Frankenthaler was a pupil of Rufino Tamayo at the Dalton School, New York, and of Paul Feeley at Bennington College. In 1949, she attended Meyer Shapiro's courses at Columbia University and, in 1950, Hans Hofmann's summer school in Provincetown. In 1958, she married Robert Motherwell....

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Active from 1948 to 1954 in France.

Born 31 May 1923, in Newburgh (New York).

Painter, sculptor, engraver.

Post-painterly Abstraction.

Ellsworth Kelly attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in the early 1940s. In 1943, he was called up and sketched views of the French countryside and Paris while taking part in the Liberation. Back in the USA in 1945, he studied under Karl Zerbe at the Boston Museum School. He returned to France and enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris under the GI bill. He stayed on for six years, getting to know Jean Arp, Georges Vantongerloo, Michel Seuphor, Brancusi, Picabia, Magnelli, Giacometti, Miró and Calder. In 1954, he returned to New York....

Article

Patterson Sims

(b Newburgh, NY, May 31, 1923).

American painter, sculptor, and printmaker. He was one of the major practitioners of abstract art in the USA after World War II; as early as the 1950s he developed an individual approach that influenced the course of Minimal art, colour field painting, hard-edge painting, and Post-painterly Abstraction without becoming fully a part of any of these movements (see fig.). He was encouraged at high school by a sympathetic art teacher, although his parents were reluctant for him to be an artist and agreed to support only his training in the technical arts, which he pursued at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York (1941–2). In 1943 he was inducted in the US Army where, at his request, he was assigned to the camouflage unit. In 1944 he travelled to Europe, where a short stay in Paris inspired him to return to France at the end of the decade. Following his military discharge (...