Untitled (first work)
Signed and dated “Eldred ‘42’, lower right margin
Framed: 20.5 x 18 in
Image: 13 x 10 in
Archivally framed with a double matte, and is ready to hang.
Untitled (second work)
Signed and dated "Eldred '41", lower right margin
Framed: 20 x 17 in
Image: 13.5 x 10 in
This lot features two hand signed, dated and framed gouache and ink on thick paper works by American artist Thomas Brownell Eldred. Both of these two brightly colored works of geometric abstraction were created in the early 1940s at a time when the Guggenheim Museum (Museum of Non-Objective Painting) was actively collecting the work of Eldred, a member of the New York School of Abstract Expressionists, as well as those of Kandinsky, Bauer, Scarlett and others.
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. Both works highlight 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.
Untitled (first work)