Alfred Russell (1920-2007)
Signed 'Alfred Russell 1948'
21.5 x 10 ins / 54 x 25 cms
Alfred Russell was born on 27th May 1920 in Chicago, Illinois. He was an American artist and art teacher.
Russell studied at The Art Students League of New York before taking a masters degree (in Art History) at Columbia University. He also studied printmaking and engraving under Stanley William Hayter (1901-1988) at his renowned Atelier 17 (in both New York and Paris).
Russell was also an art teacher - He taught Art at Brooklyn College from 1946 to 1975.
Russell gained early recognition in the initial Abstract Expressionism movement - exhibiting both in New York and Paris alongside Wilhelm De Kooning, Ad Reinhardt, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Stanley William Hayter.
In 1948 Russell met, and married, the French artist and designer Andree Descharnes (1923-1976). For almost six years they embraced the New York and Paris Avant-garde art scenes.
Russell's exhibitions include 'Blanc et Noir' (with Georges Mathieu and Camille Bryen), Galerie des Deux Iles, Paris - which continued at the Salon des Realites Nouvelles and Galerie Pierre (1949), Peridot Gallery, New York, 'Talent 1950' (curated by Meyer Shapiro and Clement Greenberg), Koontz Gallery (1950), Calligraphic and Geometric, MOMA (1950), Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America, MOMA (1951), Galerie Colette Allendy, Paris, 'American Vanguard', Sydney Janis gallery, New York and Galerie de France, Paris (1952).
In the early 1950s Russell became disenchanted with Abstract Expressionism and the New York / Paris art scenes and increasingly drawn to classical art. At a Symposium on the human figure in November 1953, he unexpectedly denounced the art world and its "bureaucratization of the avant garde".
Although Russell did appear in The Whitney Museum (1955) exhibition 'New Decade', Russell was now a persona non grata and found himself blacklisted. Unable to exhibit, finding his name deleted from texts and omitted from new studies on postwar art, the artist all but disappeared in this "Stalinist" re-writing of Art History.
In 1956, he and Andree Descharnes had a daughter, Elsie, born while they were living in Paris as guests of the Surrealist painter Kurt Seligmann (1900-1962) at his early Modernist House 'Villa Seurat' located in the 14th arrondissement.
When Russell returned to New York he immediately resumed his teaching post at the Brooklyn College with a rigorous new curriculum that attracted young artists from all over the world. A catalyst for the Realist movement in the 1960's and 1970's, Alfred Russells students formed the core of a new force in figurative painting in America.
Alfred Russell retired from Brooklyn College in 1975 and the family moved once again to France at therequest of his wife Andree. Andree died of cancer in March 1976.
Russell's last New York exhibition was at the Tatischeff Gallery in 1979. Examples of his work are held in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Alfred Russell died on 22nd September 2007, aged 87.