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Joyce Zemans


(b Croydon, London, March 31, 1888; d Toronto, March 21, 1955).

Canadian painter, critic and writer of English birth. He emigrated in 1905 to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. In 1921 he moved to Toronto to work as an editor and publisher. He is best known as a pioneer of abstract painting in Canada. His show (1927) at Toronto’s Arts & Letters Club was the first solo exhibition of abstract art by a Canadian artist. His early work is characterized by the bold non-objective imagery seen in the complex Sounds Assembling (1928; Winnipeg, A.G.). After 1930 he reassessed his artistic direction: he turned first to figurative imagery (e.g. Torso, 1937; Ottawa, N.G.) and then looking to Cubism he re-examined the nature of abstraction in his painting, without returning to the non-objectivity of his earlier work. Between 1926 and 1930 Brooker wrote ‘The Seven Arts’, a syndicated column of art criticism for the Southam Press. In addition, he edited The Yearbook of the Arts in Canada...


The term ‘expressionism’ refers in general to the deliberate distortion and exaggeration of forms for expressive effect in artworks. It may also be used with reference to particular historical or cultural iterations—as in (most commonly) German Expressionism, which refers to specific artists and practices of the early 20th century (see Expressionism). Both approaches are useful in the context of American art history. For example, the expressive qualities of the work of such 19th-century artists as Albert Pinkham Ryder or George Inness have long been noted in histories of American art and artists. Attention has focused as well on groups of artists active at mid-century in America’s urban centres who adopted the term as a conscious description of themselves and their intentions.

Prior to 1914 Expressionism was understood more or less to be a synonym of Post-Impressionism, the somewhat ambiguous name coined by British art historian Roger Fry to describe a group of mostly French artists including Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin. In the context of an early appearance in a ...


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 ...


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 ...


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...


(b London, June 7, 1931).

English painter, active in the USA. After attending the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in London from 1952 to 1953, he studied at the Royal College of Art, London, from 1954 to 1957. Deeply impressed by the Abstract Expressionist paintings in an exhibition of American art (London, Tate, 1956), he made a brief visit to the USA in 1957 and settled permanently in New York in 1958. While earning his living as a waiter he developed an abstract idiom influenced by Barnett Newman, limiting himself primarily to horizontal bands in black and white, as in Battle of Hastings (1964; see 1983–4 exh. cat., p. 75).

After trying in 1964 to paint a ship from real life Morley turned to photographs of ships, which he copied in a meticulous trompe l’oeil style with the aid of a grid, as in Empire Monarch (1965; Kansas City, KS, Larry and Cindy Meeker priv. col.; see ...


(b Snovsk, Russia [now Shchors, Ukraine], March 27, 1922; d New York, NY, Feb 4, 2007).

American painter and sculptor. Born shortly after the political execution of his father, Jevel Demikovsky, in 1921, he was taken to New York by his mother and grandmother in 1923; his mother remarried in 1926. He showed an early love for drawing and attended art classes on Saturday mornings in New York in 1935. He was much impressed by seeing works by Rembrandt at the New York World’s Fair in 1939, and in 1940 he studied landscape painting informally under Samuel Rothbort (1882–1971). From 1940 to 1942 he studied at the National Academy of Design in New York under Sidney Dickinson (1890–1980) while taking sculpture classes in the evenings at the Beaux-Arts Institute, working in clay. During this period he first came into contact with abstract art in New York at the Museum of Non-objective Painting, which later served as the basis of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In ...


[Hildegard] (Anna Augusta Elisabeth)

(b Strasburg [now Strasbourg], May 31, 1890; d Franton Court, CT, Sept 27, 1967).

American museum director, collector, writer and painter of German birth. She came from an aristocratic German family and studied art in Cologne, Paris and Munich. In Berlin in 1917 she was attracted by the work of Vasily Kandinsky and met Rudolf Bauer (1889–1953), who had a profound influence upon her career. She went to the USA in early 1927, and in late 1927 she met Solomon R. Guggenheim and Irene Guggenheim. She soon began trying to interest Solomon in new art, especially the work of Bauer and Kandinsky. By late 1929 she had persuaded him to amass a collection of abstract art. Her role was to arrange contacts between Guggenheim and various European artists, and to help select works for his collection. In parallel she built up a smaller collection of her own.

In 1937 Rebay was made Director of the new Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and from ...


Bonnie Clearwater

[Rothkowitz, Marcus]

(b Dvinsk, Russia [now Daugavpils, Latvia], Sept 25, 1903; d New York, Feb 25, 1970).

American painter and draughtsman of Russian birth. He was one of the major figures of Abstract Expressionism and an important influence on the development of Colour field painting.

In 1913 he immigrated with his mother and sister to the USA, where they were reunited with his father and two older brothers, who had settled in Portland, OR, a few years earlier. As a youth in Portland, Rothko excelled scholastically and in particular pursued interests in literature, music, and social studies. From 1921 to 1923 he attended Yale University on a scholarship, but he left in his third year without graduating. He moved to New York, where he sporadically attended a few courses at the Art Students League, including a painting class with Max Weber, which constituted his only formal training in art. Essentially self-taught, Rothko educated himself by attending exhibitions and visiting the studios of artists such as Milton Avery, whose paintings of simplified forms and flat areas of colour suggested possibilities for Rothko’s own work....


Gail Levin

(b New York, Jan 25, 1886; d Broomall, PA, May 29, 1953).

American painter. He was encouraged to paint by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (later his patron), who sponsored his first trip to Europe in 1906. Visiting Paris and Italy, he was impressed by Michelangelo’s sculpture, and upon his return he began studying sculpture with James Earle Fraser at the Art Students League, New York. After producing a small Post-Impressionist landscape in summer 1907, he studied painting with Robert Henri and was influenced by Henri’s progressive attitude.

In spring 1908 Russell went to Paris, where he met Leo Stein and Gertrude Stein and, through them, Matisse and Picasso. He then joined the Académie Matisse, organized by Sarah Stein. In 1911 he began to study colour theory with the Canadian painter Ernest Percyval Tudor-Hart (1873–1954). In his still-life paintings of 1912–13 he began to use colour harmonies rather than local colour, producing intensely coloured representational works that soon became more abstract, for example ...


(b Dublin, June 30, 1945).

American painter of Irish birth. He moved to England with his family in 1949. Scully studied at Croydon College of Art (1965–7), and then studied and taught at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1967–71), and in the USA at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (1972–3). In 1975 he was awarded a Harkness Fellowship and established his studio in New York, where he settled, becoming an American citizen in 1983. His early paintings were identified with the vigorous debates of the early 1970s about art and language. In Orange Slide (1972) and Amber (1972–3; both London, Mayor Rowan Gal.), elaborately meshed grid structures challenged critical response with their insistent syncopated rhythm and vibrant impact. From the early 1980s Scully’s increasing awareness of the arid effect of formal abstraction led to a simplification of means with greater breadth of handling and pictorial construction. Paintings integrated irregular panels superimposed to produce central motifs of vertical stripes within broad bands of contrasting hues. Scully’s progress was distinguished by a remarkable and sometimes unfashionable commitment to the fundamental concerns of abstract art. In the 1990s and 2000s he explored the interconnectedness of his photographs, paintings, and works on paper, tracing the transformation of shapes, colours, and textures of walls, windows, and bricks in various lights from the photographs into paintings and related works on paper (...


Ruth L. Bohan

(b Belostok, Russia [now Białystok, Poland], April 18, 1881; d Great Neck, NY, Oct 4, 1961).

American painter, printmaker, sculptor, and writer of Russian birth. He was born of Orthodox Jewish parents and in 1891 immigrated with his family to America. After settling in Brooklyn, NY, Weber attended the Pratt Institute (1898–1900), where he studied art theory and design under Arthur Wesley Dow. Dow’s extensive knowledge of European and Far Eastern art history, together with his theories of composition, made a lasting impression on Weber. Weber was in Paris from 1905 to 1908 and studied briefly at the Académie Julian. He developed a close friendship with Henri Rousseau and helped to organize a class with Henri Matisse as its instructor. Visits to the ethnographic collections in the Trocadéro and other Parisian museums extended his sensitivity to non-Western art, while travels through Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands broadened his knowledge of the Old Masters.

For several years following his return to America in January 1909...