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Adrian Lewis

(b Leamington Spa, Oct 13, 1915; d Newlyn, Cornwall, Sept 8, 2003).

English painter. Encouraged to paint in a prisoner-of-war camp by fellow prisoner and artist Adrian Heath, he moved to St Ives in Cornwall after the war, studying at the St Ives School of Painting. From 1947 to 1950 he attended Camberwell School of Art, which, with Heath’s studio, was the focal point of Constructivist tendencies in England. Frost followed their concern for proportion and systematic procedures but he soon rejected their historicist notions of a necessary development towards abstraction from two to three dimensions and the potential relationship between painting, architecture and design. Frost’s paintings relied upon the division of the painted rectangular canvas but the arcs in his work, generated by golden section proportions, were reminiscent of the rocking of boats, as in Movement—Green, Black and White (1951; London, Tate). His period at Leeds University as Gregory Fellow in painting (1954–6), which followed his first one-man show in London at the Leicester Galleries (...


Nancy J. Troy

(b Zurich, July 20, 1899; d Locarno, Sept 18, 1972).

American painter of Swiss birth. Brought up in France and Italy, he studied at the Regio Istituto di Belle Arti in Naples from 1914 to 1920. Three years later he moved to Paris, where he studied at the Académie Colarossi intermittently between 1924 and 1926 and became acquainted with modernist artists, including Hans Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Alexander Calder, Theo van Doesburg, Jean Hélion, Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian and Georges Vantongerloo. During the late 1920s and 1930s Glarner’s work consisted largely of semi-abstract still-lifes and interior scenes such as Painting (1937; Zurich, Ksthaus), in which flat, hard-edged areas of colour are used to indicate the simplified forms of a table in the corner of a room. Although right angles predominate, a limited number of diagonal edges and overlapping forms serve to establish a sense of spatial recession and indicate the naturalistic origin of the imagery.

Glarner married Louise Powell, an American, in ...


Daniel Robbins

(b Paris, Dec 8, 1881; d Avignon, June 23, 1953).

French painter, printmaker and writer. He grew up in Courbevoie, a suburb of Paris, and as a student at the Collège Chaptal became interested in theatre and painting. At 19, his father put him to work in the family interior design and fabric business, an experience that contributed to a lifelong respect for skilled workmanship. The first paintings he exhibited, at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1902, were Impressionist in character, but the work accepted within two years at the Salon d’Automne showed a shift to social themes, a tendency that accelerated until 1908. Compulsory military service from 1903 to 1905 thrust him into the company of working-class people, arousing a permanent sense of solidarity with their aspirations and needs. The results were immediately apparent in the Association Ernest Renan, which he helped to establish in 1905, a kind of popular university with secular and socialist aims. He was also one of the founders of a community of intellectuals based near Paris, the ...


Anthony Parton


(b Negayevo, Tula Province, June 16, 1881: d Paris, Oct 17, 1962).

Russian painter, stage designer, printmaker and illustrator. She was a leading artist of the Russian avant-garde in the early 20th century but became a celebrity in the West through her work for Serge (de) Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. During the 1920s she played a significant role within the Ecole de Paris and continued to live and work in France until her death.

She was the daughter of Sergey Mikhaylovich Goncharov, an architect, and Yekaterina Il’icha Belyayeva but grew up in her grandmother’s home at Ladyzhino, near Kaluga, in Tula Province. She attended the Fourth Gymnasium for Girls in Moscow and in 1898 entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture as a sculpture student where she was taught by Paolo Troubetskoy. At the school Goncharova became friendly with Mikhail Larionov. He became her lifelong companion and colleague, and he encouraged her to relinquish sculpture for painting. Goncharova’s early work comprised mainly pastels, which were exhibited in ...


Halldór Björn Runólfsson

(b Höfn, HornafjörÐur, Nov 18, 1909; d Reykjavík, June 25, 1988).

Icelandic painter. He was mostly self-taught, apart from a brief period at the Kunstakademi in Copenhagen (1935–6). In 1936–7 he abandoned figurative art by breaking up the motif into simple, fluid supporting structures. In Paris, where he studied for one week with Léger in 1938, he met the painter Asger Jorn and the sculptor Sonja Ferlov Mancoba and strengthened his connections with the Scandinavian avant-garde. His paintings up to 1940 betray a short-lived influence from Miró. GuÐnason first achieved public attention at the exhibition Skandinaverne (‘Scandinavians’) at Charlottenborg in Copenhagen in 1939, where he was one of the representatives of Iceland.

In 1939–41 GuÐnason developed a free but complex abstract style that he called ‘fugue-style’. Many paintings of this period were shown at the ‘Tent Exhibition’, a collaborative effort by a group of Danish artists associated with the periodical Helhesten, who later became leading members of Cobra, at Bellevue in Copenhagen in ...


Ferenc Tóth

(b Bia, nr Budapest, Dec 8, 1922; d Paris, Sept 11, 2008).

Hungarian painter, active in France. He began his studies at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest, in 1941 under Vilmos Aba-Novák (1894–1941) and Béla Kontuly (1904–83). At this time he started to experiment with various techniques, including washing out figures from a basic colour with a brush dipped in water, and scratching out outlines in thick, almost dry paint with a pointed instrument. This anticipated his later methods of production, influenced by Max Ernst. In 1947 he had an exhibition of selected works at the Budapest Forum Salon. His painting On the Balcony (1947–8; Pécs, Mod. Hung. Mus.) has a hallucinatory quality, which represents the transition to his Surrealist works of the 1950s. In 1948 Hantai visited Italy and in 1949 he settled permanently in Paris. At the end of 1952 he became acquainted with André Breton, who wrote the preface to the catalogue of Hantai’s first French exhibition, held in ...


Ronald Alley

[Heinrich] (Ernst)

(b Leipzig, Sept 21, 1904; d Antibes, Dec 7, 1989).

French painter, draughtsman, printmaker and photographer of German birth. Early in his life he developed an interest in music, astronomy, philosophy and religion, but eventually above all in painting. His first enthusiasm was for the work of Rembrandt, then in 1921–2 for that of Lovis Corinth, Max Slevogt and the Expressionists, in particular Oskar Kokoschka and Emil Nolde. In 1922, before he knew anything about abstract art, he painted a series of completely abstract watercolours of a loose, non-formal kind, followed in 1923–4 by a number of abstract drawings in charcoal and chalk, for example Scène goyesque III (see exh. cat., no. 14). In 1924 he became a student of both philosophy and art history at Leipzig University and of painting at the Kunstakademie, and was present in 1925 at a lecture by Vasily Kandinsky, his first contact with the abstract movement. Although he was advised to study at the Bauhaus, he chose instead to go to the Kunstakademie in Dresden, where the teaching followed traditional lines. At the Internationale Kunstausstellung in Dresden in ...


Robert Radford

(b Couterne, Orne, April 21, 1904; d Paris, Oct 27, 1987).

French painter and writer. His family background was modest and unconnected with the arts: his father worked as a taxi-driver. At school he was attracted to poetry and later began to study chemistry until 1921, when he moved to Paris to further his ambitions as a poet. There he financed his studies at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs by working as an architectural draughtsman; while copying decorative details at the Louvre he encountered for the first time the work of Poussin and Philippe de Champaigne, which redirected his interests towards painting. Living in Montmartre, he remained largely self-taught in art, and in 1925 he gave up his architectural employment to concentrate exclusively on painting. His early work consisted typically of still-lifes and figures, somewhat in the manner of Chaïm Soutine, until he met Joachím Torres García, who introduced him to Cubist and abstract art.

In 1929 Hélion produced his first abstract painting and, together with ...


Vanina Costa

(b Quiévy, Nord, April 29, 1882; d Paris, 30–31 Jan 1960).

French painter. He studied drawing at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Lille, from 1898 to 1901, when he settled in Paris. The initial influence of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism visible in paintings that he sent to the Salon des Indépendants in 1906 gradually gave way to an involvement with Cubism after his move in 1909 to the Bateau-Lavoir studios, where he met Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris; he was also encouraged by his friendship with Wilhelm Uhde. His work was exhibited in the same room as that of Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes and Fernand Léger in the Salon des Indépendants of 1910, and in 1912 he participated in the influential Section d’Or exhibition (see Section d’Or). After producing his first abstract paintings in 1917, Herbin came to the attention of Léonce Rosenberg who, after World War I, made him part of the group centred on his Gallerie de l’Effort Moderne and exhibited his work there on several occasions in ...


James Faure Walker

(b Leeds, Jan 30, 1920; d St Ives, March 20, 1999).

English painter and critic. In the 1950s he became identified with the St Ives group of painters, although the roots of his aesthetic date back to earlier experiences, which included working as a designer for his father’s firm, Cresta Silks (1935–9, 1944–50), and assisting at Bernard Leach’s pottery (1944–5). Insights gained through friendships with Herbert Read, T. S. Eliot, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson and Ivon Hitchens were also important. Influenced by Braque and Matisse, he evolved a flat, linear style in a series of still-lifes and interiors such as the ambitious Christmas Eve (1951; artist’s col., see 1985 exh. cat., p. 29), in which the lightly filled-in colours create an airy, luminous effect. In his writings as a critic for the New English Weekly, New Statesman and Nation and Arts (New York) between 1945 and 1958, Heron was unconvinced of the necessity for pure abstraction. His early paintings are in an ...


Cynthia Goodman

(Georg Albert)

(b Weissenberg, Bavaria, March 21, 1880; d New York, Feb 17, 1966).

American painter, teacher and theorist of German birth. He moved with his family to Munich in 1886 and in 1896 left home to become assistant to the director of public works of the State of Bavaria; he distinguished himself with a number of inventions, including an electromagnetic comptometer, a radar device for ships, a sensitized light bulb and a portable freezer unit for military purposes. In spite of his parents’ strong objection and their hopes for his career as a scientist, in 1898 he enrolled in the art school run by Moritz Heymann (b 1870) in Munich. Hofmann subsequently studied with a succession of teachers and was particularly influenced by Willi Schwarz (b 1889), who familiarized him with French Impressionism, a style that affected his earliest known paintings, such as Self-portrait (1902; New York, Emmerich Gal., see Goodman, 1986, p. 14).

In 1903 Hofmann was introduced by Schwarz to ...


Colin J. Bailey

(b Olmütz, Moravia, May 13, 1853; d Stuttgart, May 17, 1934).

German painter. While still at school he became familiar with lithography and printing methods with the intention of joining his father’s thriving publishing firm. His later decision to study art eventually met with his father’s approval, and from 1876 until 1879 he trained at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna. In 1879 he transferred to the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich, where until 1881 he continued his training under Carl Barth and Wilhelm von Diez (1839–1907). After a study tour with the German painter Arthur Langhammer (1854–1901) he returned to Munich to paint.

A visit to Paris in the 1880s had a decisive effect on Hölzel’s future development. He frequented the studios of Manet and Monet and was particularly impressed by the plein-air paintings of the Impressionists. As a direct result both his style and his technique underwent immediate change. Whereas his early work was executed in the realistic manner of Diez, and his paintings of the early 1880s (e.g. ...


Hilary Pyle

[Mary Harriet]

(b Dublin, April 20, 1897; d Dublin, Feb 16, 1944).

Irish painter. She was educated privately and had her first painting lessons from Elizabeth Yeats (1868–1940), Sarah Cecilia Harrison (1863–1941) and May Manning (d 1930). In 1913 she went to Brittany to paint and the following year entered the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin. From 1917 she studied under Sickert in the Westminster School in London. After a visit to Spain in 1920 she followed another Irish artist, Evie Hone, to Paris to study under André Lhôte; in 1921 they turned for instruction to Albert Gleizes, with whom they worked at intervals for the next ten years. From 1918 to 1921 Jellett exhibited portraits and landscapes at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, but by 1923 she had turned to a Cubist idiom and was lecturing and publishing essays on abstract art, noting its affinity with Celtic art. Homage to Fra Angelico (1928...


Francis Summers

(b Scotland, 1945).

Scottish abstract artist. Johnston studied at Edinburgh School of Art from 1964 until 1969, when he completed his BA. He moved to London to study at the Royal College of Art, where he was awarded his MA in 1972. Resident in Edinburgh, he has exhibited extensively in America, especially New York. He formulated his method of working early in his career, concentrating on the simple format of wall based drawings with pencil. An early work, Wall Drawing (1973; see 1988 exh. cat., p. 15), executed at Galerie Konrad Fischer in Düsseldorf, is a faint, slightly wobbly, triangle. Made in a rough style, this work has an austere yet imprecise geometry. Using the same technique for much of his career, Johnston made many wall drawings, all with the same title (Wall Drawing), and the same feeling of an imprecise geometric presence. He has also made paintings, such as ...


Júlíana Gottskálksdóttir

(b Strýta, HamarsfjörÐur, Nov 15, 1892; d 1993).

Icelandic painter. On completing his apprenticeship as a goldsmith in 1919, Jónsson studied painting in Copenhagen (1919–21) and in Germany, at the Akademie der Künste, Berlin (1921–5), and Der Weg, Schule für Neue Kunst, Dresden (1922–5). In 1922 he started producing Cubist and geometric paintings, both abstract and with figurative elements. In 1925, the year he returned to Iceland, he showed works of this kind at Der Sturm-Galerie in Berlin. Despite the stylistic connections with, for instance, Constructivism, the content of Jónsson’s geometric works is largely subjective, and the significance of the forms both symbolic and aesthetic. The Dice of Fate (1925; Reykjavík, N.G.), for example, is an abstract geometric work, marked by the interplay of two-dimensional forms and planes and depth brought out by the use of colour. The basic geometric forms unite to create a dice, a sphere and a ray, and take on a symbolic meaning in the artist’s interpretation of existential questions suggested by the title....


Vivian Endicott Barnett

[Vassily; Wassily] (Vasil’yevich)

(b Moscow, Dec 4, 1866; d Neuilly-sur-Seine, Dec 13, 1944).

Russian painter, printmaker, stage designer, decorative artist and theorist. A central figure in the development of 20th-century art and specifically in the transition from representational to abstract art, Kandinsky worked in a wide variety of media and was an important teacher and theoretician. He worked mainly outside Russia, but his Russian heritage continued to be an important factor in his development.

Kandinsky grew up in Odessa and from 1886 to 1893 studied economics, ethnography and law in Moscow, where he wrote a dissertation on the legality of labourers’ wages. He married his cousin Anya Shemyakina in 1892 (divorced 1911). In 1896 Kandinsky decided to become an artist and went to Munich. There he studied from 1896 to 1898 at the art school of Anton Ažbe, where he met Alexei Jawlensky and Marianne von Werefkin, and then in 1900 at the Akademie with Franz von Stuck. The following year he was a co-founder of the ...


Francis Summers

(b Brunswick, ME, May 3, 1961).

American sculptor and painter active in Sweden. He studied at the State University of New York, Purchase, graduating in 1985. His work draws on his experience of working methods in the carpentry business. Unwilling to interfere with the material he chooses to work with, such as kitchen cabinets or unplastered walls, he reframes the work as a kind of pragmatic abstraction. His arrangements of modular furniture stripped of its original function, as in Surface Habitat for Appliance (1997; see 1998 exh. cat., p. 129) closely resemble the work of the De Stijl group, bringing to mind especially the compositions of Piet Mondrian. Ketter’s recreation of dry wall surfaces as paintings, such as his White Wall Painting (1992; see 1995 exh. cat., p. 14) could be described as a reversal of the conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner’s removal of an area of wall surfaces from various gallery sites in 1968...


Ulrike Lehmann

(b Nice, April 28, 1928; d Paris, June 6, 1962).

French painter, sculptor, performance artist and writer.

He was the son of the Dutch-born painter Fred Klein (b 1898), whose work was representational, and Marie Raymond (b 1908), who developed a reputation in the 1950s as an abstract artist, and whose abstraction was influential on the development of her son’s work. Although he had had no formal art training, he was already making his first serious attempts at painting by 1946 and showing his interest in the absoluteness of colour by formulating his first theories about monochrome. In 1946 he befriended Arman, with whom he was later to be associated in the Nouveau Réalisme movement, and the writer Claude Pascal, whom he met at a judo class. Together they developed their interest in esoteric writing and East Asian religions. Klein became a student of the Rosicrucian Fellowship in 1946 and was influenced both by its mystical philosophy and by judo. In ...


Anna Bentkowska

(b Warsaw, May 25, 1948).

Polish painter. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (1965–71) under Stefan Gierowski. After a short period of abstract painting he began to create his ‘autobiographical paintings’, which he described as ‘subjected to perceived reality’ (1980 exh. cat.). At first Korolkiewicz painted rather naive, large-scale portraits of a little boy in childhood situations such as playing on a slide. He also depicted interiors and landscapes with photographic precision by means of transparencies. In 1978 he painted Breakfast (Warsaw, N. Mus.), a pensive portrait of himself at a table with a half-eaten meal. This work exemplifies Korolkiewicz’s debt to Photorealism and his interest in depicting real situations, people and places, but, because of the distressing silence, eerie light and lack of activity, it also gives a surrealist image of the world. The Garden of the Romantic (1978; Kraków, N. Mus.) initiated the series of ...


Petr Wittlich


(b Opočno, Sept 22, 1871; d Puteaux, Paris, June 21, 1957).

Bohemian painter and graphic artist, active in France. A pioneer of European abstract painting, he first trained at the School of Arts and Crafts at Jaroměř under Alois Studnička (1842–1927). From 1887 until 1891 he studied at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts under Professor František Sequens (1836–96), a late Nazarene, who directed an atelier of religious painting. He continued his studies at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna (1892–3), under Professor August Eisenmenger (1830–1907). In 1894 he met the painter and natural philosopher Karl Diefenbach (b 1851), who impressed him with his ideas of a return to nature. Kupka’s paintings of this period (e.g. Quam ad causam sumus?, ?1894) are untraced. In 1895 he settled in Paris, earning his living as an illustrator for periodicals. In 1899 he exhibited a genre painting, the Bibliomaniac (Prague, N.G., Trade Fair Pal.), at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts without notable success. He first achieved fame with his satirical cycles in anarchistic style, ...