Ernest Briggs

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Ernest Briggs
Born 1923
San Diego, California
Died June 12, 1984 (aged 60–61)
New York City
Cause of death Cancer
Occupation Abstract Expressionist Painter

Ernest Briggs (1923–1984) is a second-generation Abstract Expressionist painter known for his expressive, sometimes calligraphic brushwork, his geometric compositions[1], and revolution in abstract painting that secured New York City's position as the art capital of the world in the post-World War II period.[2]


Ernest Briggs was born 1923 in San Diego, CA.[3] He went on to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II (1943–1946).

Briggs studied painting at the Schaeffer School of Design, San Francisco, CA (1946–47) and later at The California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco (1947-1951), where he thrived under the tutelage of such ab-ex greats as Clyfford Still, Ad Reinhardt, David Park, and Mark Rothko.[4] According to New York Times critic Grace Glueck, Briggs was largely impacted by the "painterly rhetoric" of his teacher Clyfford Still during and after his time at CSFA.[5]

Considered a member of the second generation of Abstract Expressionists, along with Giorgio Cavallon, Briggs left California for New York in 1953 where he began exhibiting at the Stable Gallery. During the 1950s, he was able to make a name for himself through his explosive and dynamic style as part of the New York City avant-garde. Briggs brought to the East Coast a fresh, lively aesthetic, reflecting what has been termed a "radical West Coast style" that he had continued to develop since his days at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. He participated in several Whitney Museum Annuals and in 1956 was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition “12 Americans” curated by Dorothy Miller.[6][7] He taught painting and sculpture at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn from 1961[1] until the time of his death at age 61, and is survived by his wife Anne Arnold, who is also an artist.[8]

The dynamism and at some points discord in Briggs' work is best suggested by the following quote from his obituary, published on June 14, 1984 in the New York Times:

"Sometimes Mr. Briggs's emphasis was on strong, lyrical color and thick brush strokes that called attention to the act of painting. Sometimes, as in his exhibition earlier this year at the Gruenebaum Gallery in New York, his work was more linear and geometric, and the expressive element was dependent upon a strong, almost translucent light within grays and blues."[8]

Selected solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 1949: (first) Metart Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 1954/55: Stable Gallery, New York City
  • 1956: San Francisco Art Association Gallery, CA
  • 1960/62/63: The Howard Wise Gallery, NY
  • 1968: Yale University, New Haven, CT
  • 1969: Alonzo Gallery, NY
  • 1973: Green Mountain Gallery, NY
  • 1975: Susan Caldwell Gallery, Inc., NY
  • 1977: Aaron Berman Gallery, NY
  • 1980: Landmark Gallery, NY
  • 1980/82: Gruenebaum Gallery, NY
  • 1984: Memorial Exhibition, Gruenebaum Gallery, NY
  • 1991: With Edward Dugmore, Anita Shapolsky Gallery, NYC
  • 1992: With Ibram Lassaw, Anita Shapolsky Gallery, NYC
  • 1994: With Clement Meadmore and Erik van der Grijn, Anita Shapolsky Gallery, NYC
  • 1996: Two Painters and a Sculptor (with Clement Meadmore and Erik van der Grijn), Anita Shapolsky Gallery, NYC
  • 1998: Abstract Paintings from the 1950s to the 1970s (with Michael Loew), Anita Shapolsky Gallery, NYC
  • 2001: Anita Shapolsky Gallery, NYC
  • 2002: Abstract Expressionist Paintings from the 1950s, Mishkin Gallery, Baruch College, City University, NY
  • 2004: Ernest Briggs: Paintings of the 50th and 60th’s, Anita Shapolsky Gallery, NYC
  • 2005: Ernest Briggs: Paintings of 50's & 60's, Anita Shapolsky Gallery, NYC
  • 2006-07: Nassos Daphnis & Ernest Briggs: OPPOSING FORCES, Anita Shaplosky Gallery, NYC

Selected Group Exhibitions[edit]

Selected Public Collections[edit]



External link for image reproduction[edit]