The Walter Darby Bannard Archive

Catalogue entries (1995)

Entries in the "Handbook of the Permanent Collection of the Lowe Art Museum: Theodorus Stamos, Hans Hofmann, Jack Tworkov."

Theodorus Stamos, Persephone, 1945

Theodorus Stamos was one of the youngest of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists. He was a naturally talented painter who worked his paintings with a sure-handed control of color and touch. Persephone is typical of the many small paintings influenced by Joan Miro and the Surrealists and executed by numerous Abstract Expressionists before they reached their mature styles in the years around 1950. An excellent example of the biomorphism evident in advanced New York painting in the 1940s, it is a highly skilled early abstraction - but abstract only in the sense that the biomorphic forms are not recognizable. The figure-ground relationships, the modeling, the detailing of form, and the brushwork are all traditional.

This is a fully realized painting by a precocious twenty-three-year-old, who in the 1950s joined his colleagues in creating the large painterly abstractions that would bring American painting to the attention of the world.

Hans Hofmann, Nightfall, 1958

Nightfall, painted at the beginning of Hans Hofmann's last and finest period, typifies the rich painterliness of his best works. The painting has no subject and very few characteristics of pictorial structure - not even Cubism, which always seems to lie somewhere within a Hofmann painting. It is simply bright, light and dark paint pushed roughly about a surface. Hofmann never struggled through socially relevant content and surrealism to come to "pure" painting, as did other Abstract Expressionists.

Born in 1880, Hofmann was a generation older than the Abstract Expressionist with whom he was associated. Trained in Munich, he was in Paris during the dizzy years of 1904-14, frequenting the circles in which twentieth-century style developed. Known to artists such as Picasso, Delaunay, and Matisse, he exhibited Cubist-Impressionist paintings that showed nothing of the splendid bravura of later years. After moving to this country in 1932 and starting an art school in New York in 1934, Hofmann, then in his fifties, began producing robust expressionist landscapes and still lifes, which anticipated the Abstract Expressionism of the late 1940s and 1950s. Through his art, his writing, and his teaching, Hofmann is recognized as a seminal influence on Abstract Expressionism as well as one of its finest practitioners.

Nightfall is an excellent example - almost a type-specimen - of vigorous painterly abstraction at its best.

Jack Tworkov, Untitled #56, 1960

Jack Tworkov was a central figure in the generation of Abstract Expressionist who came to their mature style in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Together with many others, he worked on federal art projects in the 1930s and was influenced by social issues and European modernism. He exhibited in most of the important group shows in New York and around the country in the 1940s and 1950s. From 1948 to 1953 his studio adjoined Willem de Kooning's, and, like many other New York artists, Tworkov was strongly influenced by de Kooning's voluptuous, painterly style of time.

Yet by the mid-1950s Tworkov had evolved a method based on a horizontal/vertical grid, or internal "box," very loosely painted and slashed through with urgent, diagonal strokes of primary hues. By 1960, when Untitled #56 was painted, he was feeling the influence of Rothko and Newman and the oncoming of Minimalism. Rectilinearity became more pronounced in his works, and the slashing strokes were clustered and often of close value and subdued hue. Tworkov continued in this direction, and by the late 1960s his art was spare, rigid, and delicately colored.

Untitled #56, apart from its excellence as a work of art, exemplifies the transition advanced painting was undergoing around 1960.