Frances Simpson Stevens

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Frances Simpson Stevens with Battle of Gorizia (center), surrounded by (clockwise from top left) Albert Gleizes (with Chal Post, 1915); Marcel Duchamp (with his brother Jacques Villon's Portrait de M. J. B. peintre (Jacques Bon) 1914); Jean Crotti; Hugo Robus; Stanton MacDonald-Wright; Sometimes we dread the future, Every Week, Vol. 4, No. 14, April 2, 1917, p. 14

Frances Simpson Stevens (1894-1976) American painter, is remembered as one of the only Americans to directly participate in the Futurist Movement.[1] Stevens was also one of the artists who exhibited at the landmark show Armory Show in New York City. The show included her oil painting Roof tops of Madrid ($200).[2]

Early life[edit]

Stevens grew up in Chicago, Illinois.[3][4] Stevens graduated from Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and moved to New York City. In 1912 she attended a summer painting class taught by Robert Henri in Spain. It was there that she painted The roof tops of Madrid, the painting that she would exhibit a year later in the Armory Show.[5]

Following the closing of the show, at the urging of Mabel Dodge, Stevens moved to Florence where she rented a studio from 1913 to 1914 with Mina Loy,[6] who had asked Dodge to find her a boarder. Stevens and Loy became fixtures in the local art scene and it was there that they became acquainted with Marinetti and the Futurists.[7] Stevens was the only American to exhibit at the 1914 Esposizione Libera Futurista Internazionale,[8] where she showed eight works.

Stevens was active in World War I.[9] After leaving Europe she returned to New York where she published a series of cartoons in Rogue magazine. She also exhibited in New York, receiving a positive review in the New York Times.[10]

Futurism[edit]

Frances Simpson Stevens with artwork, 1917

Stevens explicitly identified her work as futurist. In an article for The Popular Science Monthly, she articulated her vision:

"A futurist artist in Italy, seeing an ordinary street car go by, realizes the future possibilities of power and speed, and he begins to paint great trains going so fast that they lose their definite form in the lines of direction. Motion and light destroy the solidity of the material bodies... The futurists make their engines move, throb and create. Something is always happening in a futurist's pictures, and the great variety of color and changing lines helps to convey this impression." Frances Simpson Stevens, 1917[11]

Very little of Stevens' art has survived. One work that has is Dynamic Velocity of Interborough Rapid Transit Power Station at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.[12][13]

Later life[edit]

The New York Times reported that "Miss Frances Simpson Stevens of this city became the bride of Prince Dimitry Golitzine" on April 19, 1919, under the headline "MISS STEVENS WED TO RUSSIAN PRINCE". American Art News reported on the marriage as well, styling the groom "Prince Dimitrioff Nicholaevitch Galitzine", and identifying him as a son of the last Prime Minister of Russia, Prince Nikolai Dmitriyevich Golitsyn.[14] They had reportedly met at a dinner, when the Prince was attached to the Russian Embassy in Washington.[15] They were married in a registrar's office.[15] Frances was latterly styled Princess Dimitry Golitzine. After honeymooning in California, the couple departed for Vladivostok, where the Prince had a naval command, travelling by way of Japan.[14] Frances was his second wife; his first wife was killed in revolutionary Russia in 1918.[16]

Stevens and her husband lived in Siberia for two years during the Russian Civil War. They were in Omsk while the Kolchak government was in power there, and later escaped from Vladivostok to Japan on the Russian warship Oriole, whose men were loyal to the Kerensky government. The couple returned to America, arriving in Boston on August 14, 1920, on the British steamship Persian Prince, via China.[17]

Stevens apparently continued her artistic activities for at least some time after her return to New York.[18] Prince Dimitri Golitzine (or Golitsyn) (born 11-03-1882 Arkangelsk, Russia) died 5-12-1928 in Nice, France.[16] Little is known about Stevens' life after her return to America; she died in a residential care home as a ward of the State of California in 1976.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Petteys, Chris, ‘’Dictionary of Women Artists’’, G K Hill & Co. publishers, 1985
  2. ^ Brown, Milton W., ‘’The Story of the Armory Show’’, The Joseph H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1963, p. 293
  3. ^ Burke, Carolyn; Sawelson-Gorse,, Naomi (April 1994). "In search of Frances Simpson Stevens". Art in America. 82 (4): 106. 
  4. ^ a b Shircliff, Jennifer Pfeifer (May 2014). Women of the 1913 Armory Show: Their Contributions to the Development of American Modern Art. Louisville, Kentucky: University of Louisville. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Staples, Shelley. "The Part Played By Women: The Gender of Modernism at the Armory Show". University of Virginia. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  6. ^ Sica, Paola (2015). Futurist Women Florence, Feminism and the New Sciences. Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  7. ^ Burke, Carolyn (1997). Becoming modern : the life of Mina Loy. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 153–156. ISBN 978-0520210899. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  8. ^ Esposizione libera futurista internazionale : pittori e scultori italiani, russi, inglesi, belgi, nordamericani : Roma, Galleria Futurista, aprile-maggio, Rome, 1914
  9. ^ Naumann, Francis M. (April 1994). "A lost American futurist". Art in America. 82 (4): 104. 
  10. ^ New York Times, 10 March 1916, p. 8
  11. ^ "A power-house as a Futurist painter sees it: The artist sees energy rather than the generating machinery". The Popular Science Monthly. 90 (4): 538. April 1917. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  12. ^ "Dynamic Velocity of Interborough Rapid Transit Power Station". Philadelphia Museum of Art. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  13. ^ Fitzpatrick, Tracy (2009). Art and the subway : New York underground. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-0813544526. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  14. ^ a b "Galitzin-Simpson". American Art News. XVII (30): 8. May 3, 1919. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  15. ^ a b "All Sorts of People". Free Lance. XVIII (989): 4. 18 June 1919. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  16. ^ a b "The Non-Sovereign Princely and Ducal Houses of Europe Volume III - GI Princely House of Galitzine". ALMANACH DE SAXE GOTHA. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  17. ^ "American, now Princess, fled Russian terror". Boston Post. 23. August 15, 1920. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  18. ^ Berghaus, Günter (2000). International futurism in arts and literature. Berlin: de Gruyter. p. 230. ISBN 9783110156812. Retrieved 19 December 2015.