Arthur Osver: A Retrospective
Photos by Diane Anderson
It was a snowy evening but art enthusiasts came out in the dozens for the opening of Arthur Osver: A Retrospective, at the Phillip Slein Gallery in the Central West End.
More on the artist:
When Philip Guston had taken a leave of absence from his teaching job at Washington University in 1947, he wrote a letter to Dean Kenneth Hudson explaining that the reason he would not be returning was "...the stimulation of New York itself and the contact with several painters I know there..." One of those painters was Arthur Osver, who Hudson ended up hiring on Guston's recommendation. Osver had found the same sort of stimulation in New York, painting the urban landscape, with its rooftops, smokestacks, etc., which he rendered in an increasingly lyrical, poetic way as he moved toward abstraction.
His work was exhibited in galleries including Mortimer Brandt and Grand Central Moderns, institutions including the Whitney, the Corcoran, the Phillips Collection, and the Carnegie Institute. In the 1940s his work was included in four exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art. He was awarded the Prix de Rome and two Guggenheim Scholarships, he taught at the Brooklyn Museum School, Columbia University, Cooper Union, and Yale before taking the job at Washington University.
By the early 1950s, Osver had embraced pure abstraction. By the late 1960s, he was making meticulously composed paintings and drawings of abstracted vertical forms inspired by the architecture of the Grand Palais in Paris. By the mid 1970s, his compositions were pared down, simplified, and flattened out as he explored the aesthetics of minimalist geometry. By the early 1980s, he returned to the rooftops, so to speak, by re-introducing one of his favorite motifs--the smokestack. Until the end of his life, Osver would make paintings that riff on the image of the smokestack.
The Philip Slein Gallery is proud to present a retrospective of the work of Arthur Osver (1912-2006) in conjunction with the publication of Arthur Osver: Urban Landscape, Abstraction, and the Mystique of Place, produced by the Mildred Lane Kemper Museum in the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University.
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