September 22, 1918
New York City
|Died||December 8, 2004
|Known for||Abstract expressionist|
Cleve Gray (September 22, 1918 in New York City – December 8, 2004 in Hartford, Connecticut) was as an American Abstract expressionist painter, who was also associated with Color Field painting and Lyrical Abstraction.
He was born Cleve Ginsberg. The family changed their name to Gray in 1936.
He attended the Ethical Culture School in New York City (1924–1932); and from age 11 to age 14 he began his formal art training with Antonia Nell, (who had been a student of George Bellows). At 15 until the age of 18 he attended the Phillips Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts; where he studied painting with Bartlett Hayes and won the Samuel F. B. Morse Prize for most promising art student. In 1940 he graduated from Princeton University summa cum laude, with a degree in Art and Archeology. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. At Princeton he studied painting with James C. Davis and Far Eastern Art with George Rowley, for whom he wrote his thesis on Yuan dynasty landscape painting. Gray retained a lifelong passion for Asian art after focusing on it at Princeton.
World War II
In 1942 he returned to New York and joined the United States Army. During World War II he served in Britain, France and Germany. In Germany he sketched wartime destruction. After the liberation of Paris he was the first American GI to greet Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein. He began informal art training with French artists André Lhote and Jacques Villon. He continued his art studies in Paris after the war.
He returned to the United States in 1946. During the Post-war period he began to exhibit his work at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris, and he had his first solo exhibition at the Jacques Seligmann Gallery in New York in 1947.
In 1949 he moved to the house his parents had owned on a 94-acre (380,000 m2) property in Warren, Connecticut, and lived there until his death. He married the noted author Francine du Plessix April 23, 1957. They worked in studios in separate outbuildings separated by a driveway.
In the 1960s, after forming a friendship with colleague Barnett Newman, Gray moved on from his tendencies towards French inspirations and was able to find his own unique style which he used over his last 42 years.
He was a veteran of scores of exhibitions beginning in Paris and recently in 2002 at the Berry-Hill Gallery in New York City. His paintings are in the collections of numerous important museums and institutions. In 2009 art critic Karen Wilkin curated a posthumous retrospective of his work at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.
- Contributing editor for Art in America, from 1960
- Editor, David Smith by David Smith, Holt, Rinehart & Winston (1968)
- Editor, John Marin by John Marin, Holt, Rinehart & Winston (1970)
- Editor, Hans Richter by Hans Richter, Holt, Rinehart & Winston (1971)
- Buck, Jr., Robert T.; Hess, Thomas B. (1977). Cleve Gray: Paintings, 1966–1977. Buffalo, N.Y.: Albright-Knox Art Gallery. ISBN 0-914782-13-4.
- Buck, Robert. Cleve Gray Works on Paper 1940-1986,The Brooklyn Museum, New York, 1986
- Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts
- Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
- Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida
- The Brooklyn Museum, New York City
- Cathedral of Saint John the Divine Art Gallery, New York City
- Columbia University Art Gallery, New York City
- Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio
- The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
- Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York University, New York City
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City
- Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii
- The Jewish Museum, New York City
- Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
- Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
- Museum of Modern Art, New York City
- The Neuberger Museum, State University of New York at Purchase
- New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut
- The Newark Museum, New Jersey
- Norton Gallery of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida
- Oklahoma City Art Center, Oklahoma
- The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
- The Art Museum, Princeton University, New Jersey
- Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts
- Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
- Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
- The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut
- Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City
- Willard Gibbs Research Laboratory, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
- Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts
- Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
- Abstract expressionism
- Lyrical Abstraction
- Weber, Nicholas Fox (1998). Cleve Gray. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-4138-4.
- The MORRISON GALLERY | Cleve Gray Bio
- Cleve Gray web site
- NY Times obit
- "Cleve Gray, an abstract painter, died on December 8th, aged 86". Economist magazine. 2004-12-29. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
In both his work and his attitude toward art, he praised sincerity over irony, and considered headline-grabbing, sensationalistic conceptual work destructive. Toward the end of his life, Mr Gray's peripheral vision dimmed, though he continued painting as he always had: in a converted barn at his home in Warren, Connecticut, where he'd lived since 1949. The brushstrokes of “Letting Go”, a series of paintings from 2003, may have lacked the boldness and scale of his work from decades past, but the paintings retained Mr Gray's hallmark purity, stark bravery, and genius for color.
- Johnson, Ken (2004-12-10). "Cleve Gray, 86, a Painter of Large Abstract Works". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
- "Miss du Plessix Engaged to Wed". New York Times. 1957-03-13. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
- Gray, Francine du Plessix. Shades of Gray. Art+Auction, March 2009.
- "Cleve Gray." Marquis Who's Who TM. Marquis Who's Who, 2006. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC Document Number: K2015772466. Fee. Accessed 2008-10-31.
- Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2008. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC Document Number: H1000038983. Entry updated: 20 March 2006. Fee. Accessed 2008-10-31.