20 х 17 in. cm.
The European modernists like Russian born Kandinsky famously took New York by storm at the Armory Show of 1913, exposing American artists and the public to the artistic movements of cubism, post-impressionism, and fauvism for the first time. Their influence was immediate and enduring: two decades later, the generation of Thomas Brownell Eldred, and the American abstract artists of the 1940s who came of age in the wake of this momentous international exhibition, would be inspired, empowered and ultimately legitimized by the lessons of modernism imparted by their European predecessors at the Armory.
For Thomas Brownell Eldred, a member of the New York School of Abstract Expressionists, that establishment legitimacy came in the early 1940s when the Guggenheim Museum (Museum of Non-Objective Painting) began collecting his work, alongside the work of Wassily Kandinsky, Rudolph Bauer and others. This brightly colored original signed gouache and ink painting on thick paper was created around that time -- 1941 - and is a superb example of Eldred's non-objective painting.
This unique work of mid century modern art in America is framed with elegant white matting and beveled edges, and is ready to hang.
Eldred's bold, bright dazzling colors and interplay of shapes reminiscent of Calder, reflect the artist's background in printmaking, which he learned at William Stanley Hayter’s famous printmaking workshop in Paris, Atelier 17. It also reveals the impact of major artists, such as Jean Arp, Georges Braque, Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miro, and Pablo Picasso, on Eldred's style. This work of geometric abstraction highlights Eldred’s excellent draftsmanship through the characteristic bright colors and patterns that he developed during his time as a naval wood pattern maker in the merchant marines.
Thomas Brownell Eldred (1903-1993) was born in Michigan and was admitted to the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago. After serving in the Merchant Marines, he attended The Art Student’s League in New York with Thomas Hart Benton. In the 1930s, he was accepted into the famous artist’s colony Yaddo, but instead took a position teaching at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, funded through the WPA’s Federal Art Project, which established to provide struggling artists with economic support during The Great Depression. Eldred worked amongst other WPA artists, such as, Ben Shahn, Mark Rothko and Philip Guston. In Brooklyn, Eldred met the innovative print-maker Werner Drewes, who studied at Bauhaus with major modernists Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger and Wassily Kandinsky. Drewes also served as Director of the Graphic Art Project of the WPA in New York and was a founding member of the influential American Abstract Artists (AAA) group. In the late 30s and 40s, when this painting was created, the Guggenheim's became big patrons of Eldred and actively acquired Eldred's work, along with those of Kandinsky, Bauer and others, for their new Museum of Non-Objective Painting (which would later become the Guggenheim Museum), which focused on international abstraction.