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Leonard Nelson
Leonard Nelson, Abstract in Green 1978
This Color field abstraction is painted with bursts of colors predominantly in greens and blues. Color field painting is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and closely related to abstract expressionism, while many of its notable early proponents were among the pioneering abstract expressionists. Color field is characterized primarily by large fields of flat, solid color spread across or stained into the canvas creating areas of unbroken surface and a flat picture plane. The movement places less emphasis on gesture, brushstrokes and action in favor of an overall consistency of form and process. In color field painting color is freed from objective context and becomes the subject in itself. Leonard Nelson (1912 - 1993) Born in Camden, New Jersey, Nelson applied for a scholarship at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, regardless of having no portfolio. He was persuasive enough to be given one semester and subsequently was awarded an Academy fellowship to study painting. Nelson went on to earn the Academy's prestigious Cresson Traveling Scholarship award in 1939. He studied at PAFA from 1936 - 1940 with, among others, Henry McCarter and Daniel Garber, and then earned a teaching degree from the Philadelphia College of Art. Later Nelson earned a certificate from the Philadelphia Museum School. The Barnes Foundation also enriched his educational experience where he furthered his studies for five years. In 1951 Nelson accepted a teaching position at Moore College of where he taught until 1981 and remained professor emeritus until his death. Leonard Nelson's art was always ahead of its time. Several of his paintings and drawings from the late 1940s show an experimental style of Color field painting. Color field painting was a term for organic, sensuous and joyous abstract painting in the 1960s. This is the direction that Nelson's later work of the 1970s, '80s and '90s would take. His early Color field paintings in the 1960s were more representational of nature, using abstracted flowers and gardens. These works then evolved into a tight, highly textured reflection of nature and light in the 1970s. In these, luminescence and heavy impasto, carefully applied layer upon layer over months, or even years, resulted in some of Nelson's most celebrated works. Leonard Nelson was a dedicated teacher, painter, sculptor and print maker. He taught at the Art Center in Haiti, The Museum of Modern Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Print Club, Moore College of Art and The Hussian School of Art. Nelson is represented in many private and public collections including The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Walker Art Museum, The Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Portland Museum of Art and The Art Museum of San Francisco. Throughout his career Nelson had 65 one-man exhibitions in New York and Philadelphia. The Peridot Gallery, Hugo Gallery, Betty Parson Gallery, Peggy Guggenheim and Mortimer Brandt Gallery showed his works.
oil on canvas, 20 x 26 inches
Signed on Verso
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