( Originally Published 1955 )
Contemporary American painter, one of the pioneers of modern art in the U.S. Born in Russia, he arrived in the U.S. in 1891, studied with A. W. Dow at Pratt Institute (1897-1900), and taught briefly at several colleges. In 1905 he went to Paris, studied with Laurens at the Academie Julian and attended the Academie Colarossi and the Grande Chaumiere. He met some of the leaders of the modern movement and in 1907 worked with Matisse. On his return to the U.S. in 1909 he had his first one-man show at the Haas Gallery and in 1911 at the gallery "291," both of which were severely criticized. His early work, 1909-11, was predominantly Fauve with an increasing emphasis on Cubist elements. From 1912 to 1916 he painted abstractions and semi-abstractions, many based on New York scenes, largely Cubist but with influences of Futurism. A return to realism is evident in the semi-abstractions of 191719 and in 1918 he did colored woodcuts in a primitivist style. In 1919 there is a clear and fundamental return to a representational style and poetic and religious subjects. Through the 1920's and early 1930's he painted predominantly idyllic figure pieces, landscapes, and still lifes under the renewed influence of Cezanne. The opulently colored and plastically powerful paintings of the late 1930's gave way in the 1940's to an art of greater abstraction and an Expressionistic emphasis on linear pattern and intensification of color.