(1902 - 1968)
Born in a rural community near Baltimore in 1902, Lee Gatch spent his childhood in the Chesapeake Bay area. His abstract painting style combined elements of Post-Impressionism, Cubism and Expressionism in mystical evocations of nature based on this early experience, bearing some resemblance to the work of Paul Klee. Both artists used deeply personal religious and philosophical symbolism.
Gatch studied at the Maryland Institute under John Sloan and Leon Kroll. In 1924, he won a fellowship in France to the American School in Fontainebleau. He then went to Paris, studying at the Academie Moderne with Andre L'hote and Moise Kisling. Gatch was also influenced by the paintings of Andre Derain, Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard.
Gatch returned to America in 1925, working in New York. His work was essentially Cubist in style during this period, becoming more personal and symbolic around 1930. During the 1940s, large areas of color-dominated many pictures, leading, during the 1950s, to an increasingly non-objective approach in which color dominated subject. He experimented with a variety of textures in his work, including thick paint, collaged pieces of canvas and thin slabs of stone in the 1960s.
In 1935, Gatch and his wife, the painter Elsie Driggs, established a studio in Lambertville, New Jersey, living in relative seclusion until his death in 1968. Writer, James Michener, recalled as a young man spending long hours in the home and studios of Gatch and Driggs. He described them as a "marvelous couple" and Gatch as "a crusty buzzard who built his 'canvases' around huge slabs of unpolished limestone and made heroic works from the mix of canvas, stone and subdued paints". (Folk, 10)
Gatch was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.