Five Star Artists

5-Star Artists
“Christies” crew on the phone taking bids.

Most famous artists of all time.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses, also known as -Grandma Moses,- became widely famous for her nostalgic paintings that depict rural American life.

Grandma Moses /

Anna Mary Robertson Moses  (1860 – 1961) A National Icon who portrayed 19th century New England.   

The 1969 a U.S. postage stamp honoring Grandma Moses was published. It re-creates her painting “Fourth of July”, which the White House owns. The 1969 U.S. postage stamp honoring Grandma Moses. It re-creates her painting “Fourth of July”, which the White House owns.

Grandma Moses, or Anna Mary Robertson Moses, remains the #1 most famous primitive artist, ever.

Grandma Moses Video, Brief biography and artwork.

Grandma Moses embroidered art.While  always keeping busy with farm chores, housework and raising her children and  it was no different when she got older and was widowed. Her works tell of good humored fun, which embroidered her life. When arthritis prevented her from doing embroidery at age 78, she took up painting.
Grandma Moses home dubbed “Mt. Nebo” the final resting place of “MOSES”in the bible.

President Harry S. Truman presented her with the Women’s National Press Club trophy Award’ for outstanding accomplishment in art in 1949 and the White House owns one of her painting, “Fourth Of July” which is commemorated on a US postage stamp.

Grandma Moses, America’s Favorite Painter.
President Harry Truman & Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson Moses), May 1949.

Jerome Hill directed the 1950 documentary of her life, which was nominated for an “Academy Award”. In 1952, she published “My Life’s History, her autobiography. ”In it she states… “I look back on my life like a good day’s work, it was done and I feel satisfied with it. I was happy and contented, I knew nothing better and made the best out of what life offered. And life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.”  In 1955, she appeared as a guest on “See It Now“ , a television program hosted by Edward R. Murrow.

Grandma Moses,” remains famous for her nostalgic paintings that depict pleasant rural American life in the 1800s.

Grandma Moses at age ‘100’.

The Moses clan continues to live in upstate New York where they continue to create paintings that depict rural 19th century New England life which look like to the works of their matriarch, Grandma Moses. Her descendants include Fred E. Robertson Moses, Forrest King Moses and Winona Robertson Fisher, Will Moses and Winona Robertson Fisher.


Norman Rockwell & Grandma Moses were good friends and she appears as a character in one of his paintings.
Grandma Moses, “Trout Brook”.
“I paint from the top down. From the sky, then the mountains, then the hills, then the houses, then the cattle and then the people.” Grandma Moses.
Will Moses – “A Spooky Halloween”.

‘Naive Art’, or ‘Outsider Art’, refers to works by artists in sophisticatedsocieties who reject or lack professional training. Naive artists create art with the same passion and intentions as trained artists, but work without formal knowledge of methods and training. Naive artwork is characterized by the use of bright strong colors, highly detailed images, and an absence of formal perspective. Naive art represents memories, dreams, fantasies and scenes from every day life, with an emphasis on color and shapes.

Old Checkered House, Grandma Moses.


Naive Art vs Folk Art

‘Naive Art’ is often associated with ‘Folk Art’, but they are very different. ‘Naive Art’ by definition is a product created by ‘unschooled’ individuals.  ‘Folk Artists’ on the other hand work within a cultural milieu influenced by tradition, politics and religion.

Primarily ‘Folk Art’ (wood, paper, clay or metal) is utilitarian and decorative, rather than aesthetic or personally expressive.  

Anyone can be a ’Naive Doctor’, but anyone can’t be a ‘Folk Doctor’ unless his or her practice sprang from an outside group with an established tradition, like Alaska Inuits.   

Decorating Wooden Russian Nesting Dolls.

Examples of ‘Folk Art’ may be seen in these wooden Russian nesting dolls, rugs, quilts, baskets, ceramics  toys and hand made fishing lures.

Wooden Russian Nesting Dolls.

‘Naive Art’ sometimes called ‘Outsider Art” is less restrained by social structure, political correctness or tradition, but governed by personal aesthetics, depiction and personal expression.  ‘Naive Art’ emerged in the last seventy years as one of contemporary art’s most important styles, because it endured ever changing popular styles around it and remained generally the same. It is interesting to note that despite the large number of primitive or naive painters around the world, they all possess a distinct unity of style. Famous Naive artists include Henri Rousseau, Joseph Pickett, Morris Hirshfield, Jean-Michael Basquet, Gaugan, Grandma Moses and her descendants.

Will Moses.

Her desire to paint was triggered by her inability to do needlework due to arthritis. Anna Robertson was born in 1860 in New York, married at the age of 27, and bore 10 children, out of which only 5 survived. Anna Robertson was feisty and strong willed and after the death of her husband in 1927 she moved back to New York from Virginia. The genius of Grandma Moses was discovered by an art collector, Louis Calder, during the Depression when she was trying to sell some her pieces at the “Women’s Exchange”.

Calder bought many of her pieces and by 1939 she had three showings in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Anna Mary Robertson (“Grandma”) Moses, – “Catching the Turkey” – (1955), oil on pressed wood, 12 x 16 in.


Grandma Moses, “Taking In The Laundry”.


Grandma Moses, “Taking Turkeys”
“Time Magazine”, Grandma Moses.

One year later she had her first solo exhibition in New York.  According to the art world Grandma Moses’s paintings were of Primitive or Naive style. She painted scenes on pieces of old wood with simple textures, but complex content. She portrayed nostalgic happy real everyday life scenes, like “Currier and Ives”.  Her style echoed stitching on fabric which she had done extensively before arthritis prevented her from stitching. In the 1930s she switched to painting and then her medium of choice was ‘house paint’. Her art career began at age ’75’ and continued till her death in 1961 at the age ‘101’. Grandma Moses completed about “1,600” paintings. Anna Robertson may have been called an amateur, but she consistently earned impressive fees and contributed tremendously to the Naive Art movement of the 20th and 21st centuries.


“Painting’s not important. The important thing is keeping busy.”
Grandma Moses paper back picture book, for kids of all ages.
The Farm Woman Who Turned Artist At Age 78.
Grandma Moses’ footstone reads Anna Mary Robertson Moses, Grandma Moses, Her primative paintings inspired the spirit and preserved the scene of a vanishing countryside.

When Grandma Moses died on December 13, 1961, at the age of 101, she had been a ‘regular’ in newspapers and magazines for more than two decades and her paintings were  collected by museums in the US, Austria, France and the United Kingdom. Grandma Moses is buried in the Maple Grove Cemetery in Hoosick Falls, NY.

Mural of “Wagon Repair Shop” by Grandma Moses depicted on a 100 year-old building in the Village of Hoosick Falls, close to Grandma Moses final resting place.


Grandma Moses snapshot.
Grandmas Moses Marker in Hoosick Falls, New York, next to the cemetery gate in which Grandma Moses is buried.
Grandma Moses, Anna Mary Robertson at age 15 (1875).


Anna Mary Robertson (“Grandma”) Moses

Anna Mary Robertson was born on September 7, 1860, in Greenwich, a small community in upstate New York about thirty miles northwest of Bennington, Vermont. Her father, Russell King Robertson, was a farmer and also operated a flax mill. While Anna Mary’s five brothers helped their father at the mill and on the farm, she and her four sisters were taught to master a variety of domestic duties. At the tender age of twelve, Anna Mary went to work as a “hired girl” on a neighboring farm, helping a wealthier family with the household chores. She was to pursue this sort of work for the next fifteen years until, at the age of 27, she met a “hired man,” Thomas Salmon Moses, whom she married.

The year was 1887, and Thomas had been told that the Reconstruction-era South was a land of opportunity for Yankees such as himself. Within hours of their wedding, the couple was on a train headed for North Carolina, where Thomas had secured a job managing a horse ranch. However, he and his bride never made it beyond Staunton, Virginia.

“Mt. Airy” home of Grandma Moses in Virginia. The building is open to the public, but in need of a new owner to buy the building to restore the northeast corner of the building, which is presently being propped up  – temporarily.

Here they stopped for the night and were persuaded to take over as tenants on a local farm. Anna Mary immediately fell in love with the beautiful Shenandoah Valley–her chilly New York State home (albeit mountainous) would forever after seem a “swamp” by comparison. Life was not always easy, though. Anna Mary, who believed in pulling her weight, bought a cow with her own savings and supplemented the family income by churning butter. Later, when times were tough, she made and sold potato chips. She gave birth to ten children, of whom only five survived infancy. Still, the family prospered, eventually earning enough to buy their own farm.

Grandma Moses, “Country Wedding”.

Anna Mary Moses, known by then as “Mother Moses” to many of her neighbors, would happily have spent the rest of her life in Virginia, but Thomas was homesick. In 1905, he persuaded his wife to return North. “I don’t think a bit has changed since we left,” Anna Mary commented, “the gates are hanging on one hinge since I went away.” She and Thomas bought a farm in Eagle Bridge, New York, not far from her birthplace. They named their farm “Mount Nebo”, prophetically, after the Biblical mountain where Moses disappeared. It was on this farm, in 1927, that Thomas Moses died of a heart attack.


Grandma Moses, “Barn Dance”.

Anna Moses was not one to sit idle. Though all her children were now grown, there was still plenty of work to be done on the farm. Later she would joke, “If I didn’t start painting, I would have raised chickens.” Or, upon further reflection, “I would rent a room in the city some place and give pancake suppers.” In 1932, Moses went to Bennington to take care of her daughter Anna, who was suffering from tuberculosis. It was Anna who showed her mother a picture, embroidered in yarn, and challenged her to duplicate it. So Anna Mary Robertson Moses began stitching what she called “worsted” pictures and giving them away to anyone who’d have them. When Moses complained that arthritis made it hard for her to hold a needle, her sister Celestia suggested she paint instead. In this casual manner, the career of Grandma Moses began.


Grandma Moses, -Country Fair- 1950.

Soon Moses had more paintings than she could realistically make use of. She sent some to the Cambridge country fair, along with her canned fruits and jams. “I won a prize for my fruit and jam,” she sardonically noted, “but no pictures.” Here Grandma Moses’ painting career might have floundered. For much as she loved art, Anna Mary Robertson Moses was above all a sensible woman, and to pursue art for art’s sake alone would, by and by, have come to seem a petty indulgence. But then, in 1936 or ’37, Caroline Thomas, the wife of the druggist in the neighboring village of Hoosick Falls, invited Moses to contribute to a women’s exchange she was organizing.


Grandma Moses, was a plein air painter and her works enhance reality by combining long and short perspective.

Moses’ paintings sat in the drugstore window, gathering dust next to crafts and other objects created by local homemakers, for several years. Then, during Easter week of 1938, a New York City collector named Louis Caldor chanced through town. Caldor traveled regularly in connection with his job as an engineer for the New York City water department, and he was in the habit of seeking out native artistic “finds.”  The paintings in the drugstore window caught his eye; he asked to see more and ended up buying the whole lot. He also got the artist’s name and address and set off to meet her in person.


The Moses’ family clearly thought Caldor was crazy when he told their Grandma he’d make her famous. And indeed, for the next few years, it seemed the family was right. Caldor brought his trove of Moses paintings to New York City and began doggedly making the rounds of museums and galleries. Even those who admired the work lost interest when they heard the artist’s ‘age’. Turning 78 in 1938, Moses hardly seemed worth the effort and expense involved in mounting an exhibition; her life expectancy was such that most dealers felt they would never reap a profit on their initial investment. Still, Caldor persisted, and in 1939 he had his first limited success: the collector Sidney Janis selected three Moses paintings for inclusion in a private viewing at the “Museum of Modern Art” in Manhattan, New York City. However, this exhibition, which was open only to Museum members, had no immediate impact.


Finally, in 1940, Caldor stopped at the “Galerie St. Etienne”. Recently founded by Otto Kallir, a Viennese emigré, the “Galerie St. Etienne” specialized in modern Austrian masters such as Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele. But Kallir, like many of the pioneers who championed modernism in the pivotal decades between the two world wars, was also interested in the work of self-taught painters. In Europe, this trend had been established when Picasso “adopted” the painting toll collector Henri Rousseau, and was furthered by the published writings of the Russian-born Expressionist Vasily Kandinsky. Essentially, these artists and their various followers believed that the work of self-taught artists was purer and more original than that of trained painters. In tandem with a concerted effort to renounce academic tradition, the contemporary avant-garde looked to the example of those who, for whatever reason, had been denied formal training.

Anna Mary Robertson (“Grandma”) Moses, “The Quilting Bee” (1950), oil on pressed wood, 20 x 24 in (© 2016 Grandma Moses Properties Co, New York; private collection, courtesy of Galerie St. Etienne, New York).


Anna Mary Robertson Moses made her public debut at the Galerie St. Etienne in October 1940. Otto Kallir had titled the exhibition “What a Farmwife Painted,” thinking that the artist’s name, completely unknown, did not merit attention. It was only some months later that a journalist, interviewing friends in Eagle Bridge, came upon and then popularized the local nickname “Grandma Moses.” The St. Etienne exhibition, though well publicized and well attended, was only a modest success. What really got Moses’ career rolling was a Thanksgiving Festival organized by Gimbels Department Store shortly after the St. Etienne show closed. A substantial group of paintings was reassembled at Gimbels, and the artist was invited to come to New York. In her little black hat and lace-collared dress, accompanied by the proprietary Caroline Thomas, Moses (perhaps remembering her experiences at the country fair) delivered a forthright public address on her jams and preserved fruits. The hardboiled New York press corps was delighted, and the legend of Grandma Moses was born!


Grandma Moses was big business in 1949. Millions of “Hallmark Cards” featured her paintings in addition to Cups, Plates, Curtains, Towels, T-Shirts, Childrens Books, and prints that reproduced her paintings.

In defiance of every precedent, Grandma Moses became a  ‘SUPERSTAR’!


Dinner Plate in Grandma Moses by Shenango.

She did not do so willfully or suddenly, but she did so nonetheless. Her talk at Gimbels in 1940 brought a burst of publicity, and Moses was soon something of a local celebrity, but her renown was confined to New York State. She exhibited at a number of upstate venues and began to be besieged by vacationers seeking artistic souvenirs. For some years, Moses resisted signing a formal contract with Kallir, believing she could manage matters herself. Finally, in 1944, frustrated by the seasonal nature of her tourist-oriented business and by the difficulty collecting payment from some of her customers, she agreed to be represented exclusively by the Galerie St. Etienne and the American British Art Center, whose director, Ala Story, had also become a steady buyer of Moses’ work.

⅓ Down on the left. Saturday Evening Post cover Includes Grandma Moses,

The events that established Moses as a national and then international celebrity followed in quick succession. Kallir and Story immediately launched a series of traveling exhibitions that would, over the ensuing two decades, bring Moses’ work to more than thirty American states and ten European nations. In 1946, Kallir edited the first monograph on the artist, “Grandma Moses: American Primitive”, and oversaw the licensing of the first Grandma Moses Christmas cards. Both projects proved so successful that the following year the book was reprinted and the greeting card license taken over by “Hallmark”. In 1949, Moses traveled to Washington to receive a special award from President Harry S. Truman. The next year, a documentary film on her life, photographed by Erica Anderson, directed by Jerome Hill, and with narration by Archibald MacLeish, was nominated for an Academy Award. Her autobiography, My Life’s History, was published in 1952.


The dawning age of mass communications gave the public unprecedented access to Grandma Moses and her work. In addition to traveling exhibitions, books and greeting cards, people could enjoy posters and even mural-sized reproductions, china plates, drapery fabrics and a number of other licensed Moses products. By live-remote broadcast–then a technological marvel.  Moses’ voice was beamed out from her home in Eagle Bridge to the larger world.  A rare use of color television was made to show Moses’ paintings when she was interviewed by Edward R. Murrow in 1955. Lillian Gish even portrayed the artist in one of the first televised “docu-dramas.”

The rags-to-riches saga of the elderly painter captured the American imagination. Facing the harsh realities of the Cold-War era, the public took heart in a real-life tale that seemed to prove the old adage, “it’s never too late.” The media seemingly never tired of repeating Moses’ fairy-tale story. In 1953, she was featured on the cover of Time Magazine”; in 1960, Life sent noted photographer Cornell Capa to do a cover story on the artist’s 100th birthday. That birthday, declared “Grandma Moses Day” by New York’s governor, Nelson Rockefeller, was celebrated almost like a holiday in the nation’s press. The fanfare was repeated the following year, when Moses turned 101. Everyone rejoiced at the artist’s longevity. Grandma Moses passed away several months after her 101st birthday, on December 13, 1961. Her death was front page news all over America and throughout much of Europe.


1860 Anna Mary Robertson is born on September 7 in Greenwich, New York, the third of ten children of Mary Shannahan and Russell King Robertson, a farmer.


1872 Leaves home to work as “hired girl” on neighboring farm. Anna Mary will spend most of the next fifteen years in this manner, learning how to sew, cook, and keep house for various wealthier neighbors.


1870s Obtains a few years of schooling along with children of family for whom she works.


1887 On November 9, marries Thomas Salmon Moses, the “hired man” on farm where she is then employed. The couple move to Virginia, where they work as tenant farmers for a number of years until saving enough to buy their own place. Mrs. Moses contributes to family’s income by producing butter and potato chips. Gives birth to ten children, of whom five die in infancy.

1905 The family returns to upstate New York, urchasing farm in Eagle Bridge, not far from Anna Mary’s birthplace.


Grandma Moses house near Eagle Bridge, NY. Grandma’s farmhouse is currently owned by her great grandson, the noted artist, Will Moses.

1909 Moses’s mother dies in February, her father in June.


1918 Paints first large picture on fireboard in parlor.


1920s Paints landscapes on panels of “tip-up” table and occasional pictures for relatives and friends.


1927 On January 15, her husband, Thomas Salmon Moses dies of heart attack.


1932 Goes to Bennington, Vermont, to assist daughter Anna, who is ill with tuberculosis. At Anna’s suggestion, makes first “worsted” embroidered pictures. After Anna’s death, Moses stays on to care for her two grandchildren.


1935 Returns to her farm in Eagle Bridge, where she lives with youngest son Hugh, his wife Dorothy, and their children. Begins to paint in earnest and exhibits pictures at local events, such as fairs and charity sales. Moses later recalls receiving prizes for her preserves at the county fair, but nothing for her paintings.


1938 A display of her pictures at Thomas’s Drugstore in Hoosick Falls, New York, is discovered by Louis Caldor, a traveling engineer and amateur collector. Caldor vows to make Moses famous, but her family scoffs at the idea; he sends her her first professional artist’s paints and canvases.


1939 At Caldor’s instigation, three Moses paintings are included in show of “Contemporary Unknown American Painters” in Members’ Rooms of Museum of Modern Art in New York (October 18–November 18). Exhibition is not open to the general public and thus has little impact. Most art dealers whom Caldor approaches refuse to commit to a 79-year-old artist.


1940 Otto Kallir, owner of Galerie St. Etienne in New York, is taken with the Moses paintings Caldor shows him and mounts artist’s first one-woman show, “What a Farm Wife Painted” (October 9–31). In November, Gimbels Department Store features Moses’ work in a “Thanksgiving Festival.” She attends and captivates press and public alike.


1941 Receives New York State Prize for Old Oaken Bucket at Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts (now Everson Museum of Art), Syracuse, New York. The painting is purchased by Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM. Celebrities such as Katherine Cornell and Cole Porter begin to collect her work.


1942 Chapter devoted to Grandma Moses in They Taught Themselves by Sydney Janis (New York: The Dial Press), and three paintings included in exhibition of same title (Marie Harriman Gallery, New York; February 9–March 7). American British Art Center, New York, presents “Anna Mary Robertson Moses: Loan Exhibition of Paintings” (December 7–22).


1944 Galerie St. Etienne cements its commitment to Moses, presenting two exhibitions of her work (“New Paintings by Grandma Moses: The Senior of the American Primitives,” in February, and “Grandma Moses,” in December).


1944 Otto Kallir organizes extensive traveling exhibition program, which over the course of the next two decades brings Moses’ work to innumerable cities throughout the United States (Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin).


1945 Moses is featured artist at the “Women’s International Exposition: Woman’s Life in Peacetime,” held in Madison Square Garden, New York (November 13–18).

1945-1950 Represented in every annual juried exhibition of the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


1946 Gains significant national exposure through publication of first Moses greeting cards and best-selling monograph, Grandma Moses, American Primitive (autobiographical notes by Grandma Moses, edited by Otto Kallir, and with an introduction by Louis Bromfield; New York: The Dryden Press). Sixteen million Grandma Moses Christmas cards sold. Moses painting featured in ad for Richard Hudnut lipstick, “Primitive Red.”


1947 Second, expanded edition of Grandma Moses, American Primitive is published (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co.), and Hallmark Company takes over Moses Christmas- and greeting-card license. One-woman exhibition at Galerie St. Etienne, New York (May 17–June 14).

1948 First large color reproductions of Moses paintings produced by Arthur Jaffe Heliochrome Company, New York. Exhibition, “Ten Years Grandma Moses,” at Galerie St. Etienne, New York (Thanksgiving–Christmas).


1949 Moses’s son Hugh dies in February. Meets President Harry S Truman in May, when she travels to Washington, D.C., to receive Women’s National Press Club Award “For Outstanding Accomplishment In Art.” Simultaneous exhibition, “Paintings by Grandma Moses,” at Phillips Gallery, Washington (May 8–June 9). Receives Honorary Doctorate from Russell Sage College, Troy, New York, in June. Included in Pictorial Folk Art in America, New England to California by Alice Ford (New York and London: The Studio Publications). Riverdale Fabrics begins producing line of drapery fabrics based on Moses’ paintings, and Atlas China Company issues series of plates featuring four Moses paintings.


1950 Documentary color film produced by Jerome Hill, with narration by Archibald MacLeish and photography by Erica Anderson, nominated for Academy Award. First European Moses exhibition, sponsored by the U.S. Information Service (Vienna, Munich, Salzburg, Berne, The Hague, Paris; June–December). The artist’s birthday is celebrated in the national press for first time; Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, New York, mounts commemorative exhibition, “Grandma Moses: Exhibition Arranged on the Occasion of Her 90th Birthday” (September 7–October 15). Included in Primitive Painters in Americaby Jean Lipman and Alice Winchester (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co.). Otto Kallir establishes umbrella organization, Grandma Moses Properties, to administer artist’s copyrights and trademarks; subsequent licensing program revolves around print reproductions and items of domestic use.


1951 In April, moves from her old farm to more comfortable one-story house across the road, and daughter Winona Fisher takes over running of household. Receives Honorary Doctorate from Moore Institute of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in March.


1952 Publication of autobiography, My Life’s History, by Grandma Moses”, edited by Otto Kallir (New York: Harper & Row/London: André Deutsch/Frankfurt am Main: Ullstein Verlag, 1957/Utrecht: A.W. Brauna & Zoon, 1958). Lillian Gish portrays artist in televised “docudrama” based on the autobiography. In December, Galerie St. Etienne issues brief memoir, Christmas, by Grandma Moses.


1953 Guest speaker at The New York Herald Tribune Forum in New York, October 20. Featured on cover of Time Magazine. Crown Potteries produces dinnerware based on the painting Home for Thanksgiving.


1954-1955 Five paintings included in “American Primitive Paintings from the 17th Century to the Present,” exhibition circulated in Europe by the Smithsonian Institution for the U.S. Information Agency (Lucerne, Vienna, Munich, Dortmund, Stockholm, Oslo, Manchester, London, Trier).


1955 Interviewed by Edward R. Murrow for “See it Now” television series, broadcast December 13. “A Tribute to Grandma Moses,” on the occasion of her 95th birthday, presented by Thomas J.Watson and the Fine Arts Department of the International Business Machines Corp., IBM Gallery, New York (November 28 –December 31). Moses travels to New York to attend opening; her birthday again gets national press coverage.


1956 Painting specially commissioned by President Eisenhower’s Cabinet is given to him on third anniversary of his inauguration. Publication of set of four color reproductions, “The Four Seasons” (Port Chester, New York: Donald Art Company).


1957 “Grandma Moses: New York Showing of an Exhibition Presented in Europe During 1955–1957,” at Galerie St. Etienne, New York (May 6–June 4).


1958 Moses’s daughter, Winona Fisher, dies on October 14. Son Forrest and his wife Mary move into house to take care of her.


1959 Included in Modern Primitives: Masters of Naïve Painting by Oto Bihalji-Merin (New York: Harry N. Abrams). Publication of portfolio of six color reproductions, “Six of My Favorite Paintings” (New York: Catalda Fine Arts).


1960 Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller proclaims artist’s 100th birthday “Grandma Moses Day” in New York State. The IBM Gallery in New York celebrates with “My Life’s History: A Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Grandma Moses” (September 12–October 6), and artist herself dances a decorous jig with her physician. Life Magazine publishes cover story, with photographs by Cornell Capa.


1960-1961 “My Life’s History,” exhibition circulated by the Smithsonian Institution (Milwaukee, Washington, D.C., Chattanooga, Baton Rouge, Seattle, Laguna Beach, Fort Worth, Winnipeg, Chicago).


1961 Grandma Moses taken to Health Center in Hoosick Falls, New York, on July 18. New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller again proclaims artist’s birthday “Grandma Moses Day.” Publication of The Grandma Moses Storybook, illustrated by Grandma Moses (containing stories and poems by 28 writers, edited by Nora Kramer, and with a biographical sketch by Otto Kallir; New York: Random House). Grandma Moses dies, aged 101, at Health Center on December 13 and is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, Hoosick Falls.




1940 “What a Farm Wife Painted,” Galerie St. Etienne, NY

1944 “New Paintings by Grandma Moses,” Galerie St. Etienne, NY

1944-56 Traveling exhibitions: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Washington DC, Montana, Virginia, California, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Chicago, North Carolina, Kansas, Maryland, Connecticut, Alabama, Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Vermont, Delaware, Louisiana, Indiana, Florida, Washington State, NY State, South Carolina

1949 “Paintings by Grandma Moses,” Phillips Collection, Washington

1950 “Grandma Moses: 50 Paintings”; European traveling exhibition: Vienna, Munich, Salzburg, Bern, the Hague, Paris

1955 “A Tribute to Grandma Moses,” IBM Gallery, NY

1955-57 European traveling exhibition: Bremen, Stuttgart, Cologne, Hamburg, London, Oslo, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow

1960 “My Life’s History,” IBM Gallery, NY; Milwaukee, Washington DC, Chattanooga, Baton Rouge, Seattle, Laguna Beach, Fort Worth, Winnipeg

1962 “Grandma Moses: Memorial Exhibition,” Galerie St. Etienne, NY

1963-64 “A Life’s History in 40 Pictures”; European traveling exhibition: Vienna, Paris, Bremen, Hamburg, Hameln, Fulda, Düsseldorf, Darmstadt, Mannheim, Berlin, Frankfurt, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Göteborg, Copenhagen, Moscow

1968-Present “The Grandma Moses Gallery” (permanent installation), Bennington Museum, Vermont

1969 “Art and Life of Grandma Moses, Gallery of Modern Art, NY

1979 “Grandma Moses,” National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

1982-83 “Grandma Moses: The Artist Behind the Myth,” American traveling exhibition: Galerie St. Etienne; Danforth Museum, Framingham, Massachusetts; NY State Museum, Albany

1984 “The World of Grandma Moses,” American traveling exhibition: Museum of American Folk Art ; Baltimore Museum of Art; Norton Gallery Cheekwood Fine Arts Center, Nashville; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha; Lakeview Museum of Art, Peoria

1987 “Grandma Moses,” Japanese traveling exhibition: Isetan Museum, Tokyo; Daimaru Museum, Osaka

1990 “Grandma Moses,” Japanese traveling exhibition: Isetan Museum, Tokyo; Daimaru Museum, Osaka; Daimaru Museum, Kyoto; Funabashi Art Forum, Funabashi; Takashimaya Museum, Yokohama

1995 “Grandma Moses,” Japanese traveling exhibition: Daimaru Museum, Osaka; Yasuda Kasai Museum, Tokyo; Shimonoseki Museum, Yamaguchi; Sogo Museum, China

1996 “Grandma Moses: Pictures from the Past,” Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art

2001-02 “Grandma Moses in the 21st Century,” American traveling exhibition: National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC; San Diego Museum of Art, CA; Orlando Museum of Art, FL; Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK; Columbus Museum of Art, OH; Portland Art Museum, OR

2002 “Grandma Moses, Reflections of America,” Galerie St. Etienne, NY

2003-04 “Grandma Moses in the 21st Century,” The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, CT

2005 “Grandma Moses,” Japanese traveling exhibition: Bunkamura Museum, Tokyo; Daimaru Museum, Kyoto; Daimaru Museum, Sapporo

2006-08 “Grandma Moses: Grandmother to the Nation,” traveling exhibition: Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown NY; Reynolda House Museum, Winston-Salem NC; Hunter Museum, Chattanooga TN; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento CA; Ringling Museum, Sarasota FL.




1939 “Contemporary Unknown Painters,” Museum of Modern Art, NY

1954-55 “American Primitive Painting,” European traveling exhibition: Lucerne, Vienna, Munich, Dortmund, Stockholm, Oslo, Manchester, London, Trier

1964 “Der Lusthof der Naïven,” European traveling exhibition: Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris

1966 “1st Triennial of Insitic Art,” Slovenska, Národná Galéria, Bratislava

1974-75 “Die Kunst der Naïven,” Haus der Kunst, Munich; Kunsthaus, Zurich

1981-82 “The Folk Art Tradition,” Galerie St. Etienne, NY

1989 “Masters of Naive Art,” Japanese traveling exhibition: Daimaru Museum, Kyoto, Japan; Yamagataya Art Gallery, Yamagataya; Daimaru Art Gallery, Hakata; Daimaru Art Gallery, Tokyo

1998-99 “Self-Taught Artists of the 20th Century,” American traveling exhibition: Philadelphia Museum of Art; High Museum, Atlanta; Amon Carter Museum, Forth Worth; Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester; Wexner Center, Columbus




1946-47 GRANDMA MOSES: AMERICAN PRIMITIVE. Edited by Otto Kallir. Doubleday & Co., New York.

1952 GRANDMA MOSES: MY LIFE’S HISTORY. Edited by Otto Kallir. Harper & Row, New York.

1961 THE GRANDMA MOSES STORYBOOK. Edited by Nora Kramer. Random House, New York.

1962 THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS by Clement C. Moore. Random House, New York.

1971 BAREFOOT IN THE GRASS: THE STORY OF GRANDMA MOSES by William H. Armstrong. Doubleday & Co., Garden City, New York.

1972-75 GRANDMA MOSES. By Otto Kallir. Harry N. Abrams, (1972); New American Library (1975).

1982 GRANDMA MOSES: THE ARTIST BEHIND THE MYTH. By Jane Kallir. Clarkson N. Potter, New York.

1985 THE GRANDMA MOSES AMERICAN SONGBOOK edited by Dan Fox. Henry N. Abrams.

1989 GRANDMA MOSES: PAINTER. By Tom Biracree. Chelsea House Publishers, New York.

1991 GRANDMA MOSES. By Margot Cleary. Crescent Books.

1996 GRANDMA MOSES: AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL. By William C. Ketchum. Smithmark Publishers, New York.

1997 GRANDMA MOSES: 25 MASTERWORKS. By Jane Kallir. Harry N. Abrams, New York.

2000 THE YEAR WITH GRANDMA MOSES: by W. Nikola-Lisa. Henry Holt and Company, New York.

2001 THE ESSENTIAL GRANDMA MOSES. By Jane Kallir. Harry N. Abrams, NY.

2001 GRANDMA MOSES IN THE 21ST CENTURY. By Jane Kallir. Art Services International, Virginia.

2006 DESIGNS IN THE HEART: THE HOMEMADE ART OF GRANDMA MOSES. By Karal Ann Marling. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA.





Jean Michael Basquiat                                                                                                                                    “Every line means something.” 1960 – 1988

Jean-Michel Basquiat /

American Painter -Primitive, Neo-Expressionist

1960 – 1988

“Every line means something.”                              —Basquiat, about his work.

Desmond 1984, Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Jean -Michel Basquiat “Life doesn’t frighten me, at all!”.
Jean Michel Basquiat “Fallen Angel”.

“I don’t think about art when I’m working. I try to think about life.”                                   —Basquiat, about thinking while painting.

“I don’t listen to what art critics say. I don’t know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is.”                                                                  —Basquiat, about art critics.

“I really know how to draw.”                                  —Basquiat, about his ability to draw.

Jean-Michael Basquiat, Portrait.

Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 22, 1960. He was a ‘Naive’ or ‘Primitive Neo-Expressionist’ graffiti painter in the 1980’s. Famous for his primitive style and collaboration with pop artist. Andy Warhol who due to suspected medical error, tragically predeceased Basquiat. He is one of the best-known artists of his generation and one of only a small number of Hispanic-African-American artists to have achieved international recognition.

Jean Michel Basquiat “AOPKHES”.

Jean-Michel Basquiat emerged from the “Punk” scene in New York as a gritty, street-smart graffiti artist, who successfully crossed over from his “downtown” origins to the international art gallery circuit – all within a few fast-paced years, Basquiat swiftly rose to become one of the most celebrated and possibly most commercially exploited American “naive” painters within the widely celebrated ‘Neo-Expressionism’ art movement.

“FAMOUS” Jean-Michael Basquiet.

Early, he attracted attention for his street graffiti under the name “SAMO” (same old shit) in New York City, where he sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on streets, before his painting career took off. He was mentored by Andy Warhol and collaborated with him in the mid-1980’s.  Their collaboration resulted in a joint show.  Basquiat died on August 12, 1988, in New York City.

“GE” by Jean Michel-Basquiat.

Early Years                                                       Basquiat’s father, Gerard Basquiat, an accountant was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and his mother, Matilde was born in Brooklyn of Puerto Rican parents.

“NERO” by Jean-Michel Basquiat.




It is clear in his work that Basquiat’s diverse cultural heritage was a source of inspiration.

“Cheers”,  Jean-Michel Basquiat.

A self-taught artist, Basquiat began drawing at an early age on sheets of paper his father, brought home from the office. As he delved deeper into his creative side, his mother strongly encouraged him to pursue his artistic talents.

“Hands Up” acrylic oil stick and spray paint on canvas, painting by, Jean-Michel Basquiat 1981.

Basquiat first attracted attention for his graffiti in New York City in the late 1970s under the name “SAMO” (same old shit). Working with a close friend he ‘tagged’ subway trains and Manhattan buildings with perplexing pictures and words.

“Left Paw ©” by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

In 1977, Basquiat quit high school only one year before he was slated to graduate from “Edward R. Morrow High School” in Midwood, a section of Brooklyn in New York City.

“Famous People” by Jean Michel Basqueiat

To make ends meet, he sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets of New York City.

Serious acrylic and mixed media on canvas, by Jean-Michel Basquiat-1984.



Commercial Success

Jean-Michel was 18 when he approached Henry Geldzahler (curator, critic and public official whose enthusiastic advocacy of contemporary art made his name synonymous with the art scene in New York for three decades) and Andy Warhol in a SoHo (South of Houston Street) restaurant. He sold Andy a postcard for one dollar, but was dismissed by Geldzahler as “too young.” Less than three years later (1981) he was invited by artist and filmmaker, Diego Cortez, to participate in the P.S. 1 show, (Institute for Art and Urban Resources), alongside more than twenty artists including Keith Haring, Robert Mapplethorpe, Kenny Sharf and Andy Warhol).

“Red And Orange” ©, by Jean Michael Basquiat.
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)
“Made in Japan 1”
signed, titled and dated ‘1982 “MADE IN JAPAN 1”. Jean-Michel Basquiat’ (on the reverse)
acrylic and oilstick on paper mounted on canvas
60½ x 38½ in. (153.6 x 97.7 cm.)
Painted in 1982. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Authentication Committee of the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Auction at “Christies” 12 May 2014, New York, Rockefeller Center. Price realized USD 8,005,000

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s productive career spanned just one short decade, yet he is one of the best-known artists of his generation and one of only a small number of Hispanic-African-American artists to have achieved international recognition. Graduating from subway walls to canvas and from the streets of New York to the galleries of SoHo (South Of Houston Street vs prestige uptown galleries).  So personal and unique, this artist and his work may forever remain a mystery to those who seek explanation.

Jean-Michel Basquiat “Baseball”.

Basquiat’s Crowns (1981-2)

“Two Kings” 1981. In my opinion the two kings symbolize his friend Andy Warhole and himself – Jean-Michel Basqueit. Kings of Art in the 1980’s.

Crowns appears frequently in his paintings, signaling ambition and understanding of art history. Many artists used their monarchs to symbolize their own ‘majestic’ powers and Basquiat, lacking one, continued the tradition in his own way.

Graffiti, Jean-Michel Basquiat.
“Royal Trumpet” – 1984 Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Basquiat was ambitious and out to become king of the pack of American artists. One friend who knew him early on wrote: “He could walk into a thrift store with five bucks and come out looking like a king. In fact he basically behaved like a king who had accidentally switched lives with an identical pauper.”

“Red Nosed King”-Jean-Michel-Basquat.
Jean Michael Basquiat, “Dust Heads” is admired.


Three years of struggle gave way to fame in 1980, when his work was featured in a group show. His work and style received critical acclaim for his fusion of words, symbols, stick figures, and animals. Soon, his paintings came to be adored by an art loving public that had no problem paying as much as $50,000 for a Basqiat original.


Jean Michael Basquiat, -“PECHO”, a painting being presented for auction.

His rise coincided with the emergence of “Neo-Expressionism”, which ushered in a wave of new, young experimental artists. In the mid 1980’s Basquiat collaborated with celebrity pop artist Andy Warhol.  This friendship resulted in a successful joint show of their work, that featured a series of corporate logos and cartoon characters.

“A Black King’s Catch”, by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

On his own, Basquiat continued to exhibit around the ‘country’ and the ‘world’. In 1986, he traveled to Africa for a show in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. That same year, at age 25 he exhibited nearly 60 paintings at the “Kestner-Gesellschaft Gallery” in Hanover, Germany and became the youngest artist to ever showcase work there.

“Test Pressing” Jean Michel Basquiat.

Heroine Addiction 

As Jean-Michel Basquiat’s popularity soared, so did his heroine addiction. By the mid-1980’s, friends became increasingly              concerned by his excessive drug use. He became paranoid and isolated himself from the world around him for long stretches. Desperate to kick his heroin addiction he left New York for Hawaii in 1988, returned a few months later and claimed to be “clean and sober”.

“TOO MANY Basquiats, NOT Enough NEW ARTISTS”, by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Unfortunately he was not clean and sober and died of a drug overdose in New York City, on August 12, 1988  at age 27.  Although his art career was brief, Jean-Michel Basquiat is properly credited with bringing the African-American and Latino experience into the international elite art world.

Jean Michel Basquiat, “Greenwood Cemetery” grave, Brooklyn, New York.


It has been written of Basquiat that he “embodies the myth of a modern ‘Icarus’ who rose too quickly and burnt himself in the heat of the sun.”

How much is a “Basquiat” worth?

“Dustheads” was a work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, sold for a record breaking price of 48.8 million dollars at Christie’s. “Basquiat Painting, ‘Dustheads,’ Fetches Record $48.8 Million At Christie’s Auction In New York”. This page was last modified on 3 January 2017, at 09:35.


Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York, in “Brooklyn Hospital”. His father, Gerard Basquiat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and his mother Matilde was born in Brooklyn, of Puerto Rican parents.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s productive career spanned just one short decade, yet he is considered one of the best-known artists of his generation and one of only a small number of Hispanic-African-American artists to have achieved international recognition. Graduating from subway walls to canvas and from the streets of New York to the galleries of SoHo, the artist and his work will forever remain a mystery to those who seek explanation.

Jean-Michel’s early years were spent with his middle class Haitian father, Gerard, who was unable to fulfill his son’s need for nurturing and recognition. To fill the void, Jean-Michel hit the streets of New York at a young age where art became an outlet for his anger and empty childhood. Also known by the tag “SAMO,” Jean-Michel’s unique brand of graffiti was found throughout Manhattan as early as 1976. “His work from the first consisted of conceptual, enigmatic (hard to understand) combinations of words and symbols, executed with the curt simplicity of a late Roman inscription”, according to Henry Geldzahler, longtime curator of twentieth-century art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Jean-Michael Basquiat African American Art.

Jean-Michel was 18 when he approached Henry Geldzahler and Andy Warhol in a SoHo restaurant. He sold Andy a postcard for one dollar but was dismissed by Geldzahler as “too young.” Less than three years later (1981) he was invited by artist and filmmaker, Diego Cortez, to participate in the P.S. 1 show, (Institute for Art and Urban Resources), alongside more than twenty artists including Keith Haring, Robert Mapplethorpe, Kenny Scharf and Andy Warhol.

Cleaning Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Tombstone.

Restorating Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Tombstone, after years of outdoor exposure.

By Caroline Spivack | August 4, 2017 9:48am | Updated August 7, 2017 8:38am


A team of French preservationists touched up the tombstones of five New York artists including Park Slope native Jean-Michel Basquiat.

DNAinfo/Caroline Spivack

GREENWOOD HEIGHTS / “Greenwood Cemetery” Call it remastering the classics.

A team of French preservationists touched up the tombstones of five New York artists this week including Jean-Michel Basquiat as part of “Green-Wood Cemetery’s” historic preservation program.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, “Plaid”.

This year’s project brought four budding conservationists from overseas armed with soft bristle brushes and biocide, who cleansed the graves of grime and restored them to gleaming masterpieces. 

Moose Secret Society, by Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I feel it’s important to respect the past and honor their memory,” said Parisian volunteer Victor Vivancos after cleaning Basquiat’s granite stone Thursday. “It’s a funny feeling seeing their artwork and then working on their graves.”

Jean-Michael Basquiat, “Tiger”.

It’s the 16th year “Green-Wood” has run the French exchange program with Preservation Volunteers, which has given various structures across the cemetery much needed makeovers after decades in the elements.

Token, by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

But the restoration process is a tricky business that requires a gentle hand and is as much about taking care of the works of art upon the artists’ graves as it is about preserving the painters’ legacy, said “Green-Wood’s” manager of restoration and preservation. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat – Exhibit 2010.

“I like to think about the headstones as sculptures,” said Neela Wickremesinghe. “All the structures you see are ‘miniature of sculptures’ and ‘architecture’ and I think this shows how we’re connected to different spheres of culture.” 

“Red Nosed King”-Jean-Michel-Basquat.

Of the more than 400 artists peppered across the sprawling cemetery, the volunteers restored the headstones of 19th century painter Asher Durand; Eastman Johnson who co-founded the “Metropolitan Museum of Art”: realist George Bellows; impressionist William Merritt Chase; and finally Basquiat, whose work “Untitled” sold for a whopping $110.5 million in May — the highest sum ever paid at auction for a U.S.-produced artwork.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s untitled painting of a skull is displayed behind an official with “Sotheby’s”, which offered the media a preview earlier this month. On Thursday, the work sold for $110.5 million — the highest sum ever paid at auction for a work by a U.S. artist.

During their stay volunteers viewed works by the painters and on Wednesday took a trip to the “Brooklyn Museum” where they got a taste of Basquiat’s work before heading back to France at the end of the week.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, “Sun Shine”.

In early 1982 Jean-Michel took the art world by storm with his rampageous one-man show at “Annina Nosei’s Gallery”. This momentum propelled him to the forefront of the Neo-Expressionist movement which was characterized by intense subjectivity of feeling and aggressively raw handling of materials. Jean-Michel, accustomed to pushing the envelope in all aspects of his life, had something special to offer the neo-expressionist admirer: “I cross out words so you will see them MORE – the fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them.”

Jean-Michel Basquet, ‘The Man Brhind The Myth”.

By the age of 24 Jean-Michel would be a veteran of one-man shows under the guidance of such notable art dealers as Nosei, Larry Gagosian, Mary Boone and Bruno Bischofberger. Bischofberger introduced Jean-Michel’s art overseas as well as orchestrated the joint the collaboration of Warhol and Basquiat in 1985, which involved some 60 works.

“Hello”, by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Jean-Michel preferred drugs and women (including Madonna) over galleries, art dealers, collectors, and money (although one would be hard pressed to determine which he had more of). Lacking the fatherly support and acknowledgment he so desperately sought, Jean-Michel was unable to balance fame and fortune with his personal demons. His candle burned out on August 12th 1988, the result of a drug overdose. “Since I was seventeen, I thought I might be a star. I’d think about my heroes, Charlie Parker, Jim Hendrix . . . I had romantic feeling of how people had become famous,” reminisced Jean-Michel before his death at age 27.

Jean-Michal Basquiat – “The Ring”.

It has been written of Basquiat that he “embodies the myth of a modern Icarus who rose too quickly and burnt himself in the heat of the sun.” However, Robert Damiani, (Deputy Mayor and Councilor for Cultural Affairs, New York) brings us to a more profound conclusion: “I believe that, as an expression of a time that is tragic like no other in the history of the world, he consciously aimed his flight in the opposite direction, toward the infernos that are unexplored even by the outcasts of humanity who live out their brief earthly existence in the sinister roar of the subway, no longer on the road, but underground, irresistibly attracted by the disturbing profundity of the abyss.”

Boxers Andy Warhol & Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Andy Warhol & Jean-Michel Basquiat collaboration.
“Hybrid”, Andy Warhol & Jeam-Michel Basquet.
Andy Worhol & Jean-Mical Basquiat.
Jean-Michel Basquiat “Throwing Dice” 1984 – Acrylic on canvas.

Andy Warhol

  • Andy Warhol

    Andy Warhol & his “Campbell Soup Cans”.

    Andy Warhol – The Complete Picture

    Technically, Warhol didn’t invent Pop Art, but he became the “Pope of Pop” by taking the style out of the art world and bringing it into the world of fashion and celebrity. Starting out as America’s most successful illustrator and department store window dresser, he brought the feeling of commercial art into ‘fine art’, even going so far as to say, “Making money is art”. :-D:lol:

    Andy Warhol, “Silk Screen Money”.

    Such sentiments blew away the bohemian pretensions of Abstract Expressionism. Although he’s famous for subjects such as Campbell’s Soup, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, his greatest creation was himself.

    Elvis Presley. Rock-CloseUp by Andy Warhol.

    Andy Warhol    –    Painter and Film Maker was the leading figure and superstar of the art movement known as “pop art”.

    Andy Worhol, “Pirates Seize Ship With 900,000”. Graphite on Strathmore paper 29 x 23 in. (73.7 x 58,4 cm)

    “Pirates Seize Ship With 900,000” is art, inspired by a ‘real’ newspaper headline that read… “Pirates seize ship with 900 aboard.”   Andy Warhol, for arts sake added ‘three’ additional zeros.

    Dr Giuseppe Rossi & Gift from his patient, Andy Warhol.

    Prints gifted by Warhol to the surgeon who saved his life.

    In 1968 Andy Warhol was gunned down at the entrance to his studio. All that saved him from certain death was the skill of surgeon Dr Giuseppe Rossi. Here, Rossi’s widow and son talk about the family’s relationship with Warhol and the complete sets of screen prints he sent as a mark of his gratitude

    On 3 June 1968 a gunshot victim was wheeled into the Emergency Room at Columbus Hospital. Three bullets fired from a .32-calibre automatic had entered the man’s chest and stomach and passed through his lungs, oesophagus, spleen, liver and abdomen. Bleeding profusely, he had no blood pressure or discernible heartbeat, and was pronounced clinically dead at 4.51pm. 

    Fortunately for the man, Italian-American surgeon Dr Giuseppe Rossi, the head of the medical team, was not quite ready to give up on his patient, whom he first suspected was a homeless person from Union Square. During a particularly difficult five-and-a-half hour surgery, Dr Rossi opened the victim’s chest, massaged his heart to stimulate movement, removed his damaged spleen and the bottom part of his punctured right lung, and authorised a transfusion of no less than 12 units of blood.  

    Dr Giuseppe Rossi, photographed in 1969. Courtesy of Mrs Gemma Rossi

    Although Dr Rossi did not know it at the time, the stricken figure on his operating table was none other than Andy Warhol, who earlier that day had been gunned down at his studio by Valerie Solanis, a radical feminist and playwright. Medical historians have stated emphatically that Dr Rossi overturned long odds to save the artist’s life. 

    $1,000.00 Check to Giuseppe Rossi. It ‘bounced’ and is presently framed and proudly displayed in the Rossi home.

    Solanas later pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to three years in prison before being later diagnosed with schizophrenia. Her attack would have a profound effect on Warhol’s life and his art. 

    During his long and arduous recovery, the artist sent Dr Rossi a selection of prints, including a complete set of his Campbell’s Soup II  screen prints, by way of thanks. TheCampbell’s Soup II  works are some of the most immediately recognisable images in Pop art, with their deadpan presentation of supermarket product as fine art subject. Christie’s is offering the group of 10 screen  prints in the 24-25 October Prints & Multiples  auction in New York.

    Vegetarian Alphabet Soup. Until 1977 all of those ‘gifted’ prints were stored under Mrs. Rossi’s bed.

    Here we speak to the surgeon’s widow, Gemma, and his son, Roberto, about the incident in 1968, their subsequent relationship with Warhol, and how they came to live with and love the prints by Warhol that spoke of his deep appreciation for his surgeon’s care.

    ‘He was just one of the many victims that came to the hospital at that time. I think my husband started treating him in the elevator on the way down to the operating theatre’

    What did your husband know of the man who turned out to be Andy Warhol when he arrived in his operating theatre in 1968?

    Gemma Rossi: ‘He didn’t know anything about him, of Andy Warhol. The report [he got] was that “an old man” had been shot, so he went to the operation without knowing. The news came soon after.’

    Roberto Rossi: ‘My father was a chest and vascular surgeon. He was very much a go-to person for gunshot wounds. He often told me about how many victims there were in those days and the fact that this man [Warhol] who he had on the operating table was not known to him.’

    GR: ‘[Andy Warhol] was just one of the many victims that came to the hospital at that time. I think [my husband] started treating him in the elevator on the way down to the operating theatre.’

    So he really was responsible for saving Warhol’s life?

    GR: ‘Yes, that’s for sure.’



    Annie Oakley is part of Warhol’s Cowboys and Indians portfolio in which he interspersed recognizable portraits of well-known American heroes– John Wayne, Teddy Roosevelt, and General George Custer–with less familiar Native American images and motifs in his ironic commentary on America’s collective mythologizing of the historic West. Rather than portraying Native Americans within their historical landscape, or Cowboys in their veritable forms, Warhol chose to portray a popular, romanticized version of the American West. The West that he chose to represent is familiar to everyone and can be seen in novels, films, and television series. Warhol’s Cowboys and Indians suite is an ahistorical representation that mirrors a popular interpretation of the American West. Annie Oakley is a fine example of Warhol’s aesthetic intent in its reduction of an entire heritage and way of life into a single “trademark” image.

    Andy Warhol’s, Annie Oakley.

    Title: Sitting Bull
    Medium: Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board.
    Year: 1986
    Size: 36″ x 36″

    Andy Warhol’s, “Sitting Bull”.


    Sitting Bull is part of Andy Warhol’s Cowboys and Indians series.  The print is based on an archival photo of the Sioux Chief.  His stoic pose and placid facial expression makes it seem that Sitting Bull is posing for a photograph, rather than embroiled in action, hunting, or combat. In addition vivid colors on Sitting Bull’s face and a simple background give this great traditional historic figure, timeless dignity.

    Andy Warhol’s Sitting Bull on exhibit.

    Warhol returns to portraiture in this homage to the hero of the Battle of Little Big Horn, Sitting Bull. Originally conceived as part of the portfolio, Cowboys and Indians, the first series to combine images of people and objects.

    According to Andy Warhol “Once you ‘got’ Pop, you could never see a sign the same way again. And once you thought Pop, you could never see ‘AMERICA’ the same way again.”


    Andy Warhol, “Scotch, Broth”.

    “Campbells Soup Scotch Broth” is from the second portfolio of Soup Can prints made by Andy Warhol, following on the heels of his Soup Can Painting show in Los Angeles in 1962. Each label in this series includes lettering that was made by hand, by the artist to ‘mimic’ the actual Campbell’s Soup Can. In this impression the red is very fresh and the sheet is in excellent condition. The popularity of the Soup Can is enduring. An article is 2007 year’s New York Times observed that every day, a soup can is left on the grave of Andy Warhol.

    Andy Warhol’s grave & parents graves.

    Warhol’s collection of Campbell’s soup cans is arguably his most iconic and widely recognized series of artwork. In this collection, Warhol takes the ever-present American pantry staple and transforms it into high art. Warhol, originally a commercial graphic artist, found the imagery of the Campbell’s soup label a powerful visual tool, since the design had remained successfully unchanged for decades.Some of the most famous and recognizable images in art history, the Soup Cans by Andy Warhol helped to usher in the Pop Art movement that endures today. 

    Before ‘POP”… art, for the most part was considered to be strictly ‘HIGH BROW’. Warhol’s world of ‘POP’ was distinctly American and reflected the burgeoning commercialism and vitality of post World War II America. 

    Andy Warhol’s three piece steel “Campbell Soup Can” wrapped in a torn paper label.
    Andy Warhol, Signing  a Collassal Campbell’s soup can.

    His “Campbell’s Soup Cans” and “Gold Marilyn Monroe” images made him famous worldwide

    Marilyn Monroe, Pop Art Wallpaper by, Andy Warhol.

    and his studio, known as “The Factory,” became a magnet for artists of the 60s counterculture.

    Andy Warhol, Silk Screen portrait of James Dean.

    His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture, and advertising that flourished by the 1960s.

    Celebrities Of The 60s, 70s & 80s, by Andy Warhol.

    In 1961, he unveiled the concept of ‘Pop Art’ and showcased a collection of paintings that focused on mass-produced commercial goods. In 1962, he exhibited his iconic paintings of Campbell’s soup cans. … the world was fascinated with Andy Warhol, his look, his aesthetics and the attitude of his “Pop Art” movement.

    Andy Warhol,- Donald Trump- 6 faces.
    Andy Warhol & Trump On TV.


    The Donald, a horse & Andy Worhol.
    Jimmy Carter & Andy Warhol in the White House.
    Woman views full set (32) ofAndy Warhol’s -Campbell Soup Cans- at the Museum Of Modern Art, New York City.

    There’s a fascinating story about the 32 “Campbell Soup Cans”.

    Reflecting on his career, Warhol claimed that the “Campbell’s Soup Can” was his favorite work and said… “I should have just done the Campbell Soup Cans and kept on doing them – because everyone does only one painting anyway.”  His Campbell Soup Cans were certainly the signature image of the Warhol career and the key transitional series from ‘hand-painted works’ to ‘photo-transferred art’. Created during the year Pop Art emerged as the major new artistic movement, two of his soup can paintings were included in the landmark Sidney Janis Gallery exhibition called, ‘The New Realists’.

    Zebra, by Andy Warhol.

    In the spring of 1962, Warhol worked on a new renditions of ads and comic strips when he saw Roy Lichtenstein’s comic-strip paintings at the “Leo Castelli Gallery”. Soliciting suggestions for subjects to paint, he asked a friend, who suggested he choose something that everybody recognized like “Campbell’s Soup”. In a flash of inspiration he bought cans from a grocery store and began to trace projections of the cans onto canvas and tightly painting within the traced outlines. The result was an image that  resembled original offset lithographed Campbell Soup labels. Instead of continuing the accepted ‘dripping paint’ technique ubiquitous in contemporary ads and comics, Warhol sought the precision of mechanical reproduction. At this time (1962) he received a return studio visit from Irving Blum of “Ferus Gallery” in  Los Angeles, who was expecting to see comic-strip paintings, but was surprised by the new soup cans and immediately offered Warhol a show that summer. Expanding his subject, he decided to paint one of each of the thirty-two varieties of Campbell’s soups. Blum exhibited the cans on shelves running the length of his gallery.

    Andy Warhol, “Ten Jewish Geniuses”.

    When in 1980 Andy Warhol’s Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century exhibition opened at the “Jewish Museum” in New York it was greeted with sharper scathing than was usual for Warhol from toothy critics due to what vociferous ones referred to as his “cold” and “commercially minded” portraits of late Jewish luminaries including Freud and Einstein.

    The New York Times critic Hilton Kramer wrote: “The way it [the exhibition] exploits its Jewish subjects without showing the slightest grasp of their significance is offensive – or would be, anyway, if the artist had not already treated so many non-Jewish subjects in the same tawdry manner.”


    Andy Worhole, “Einstein” at The National Gallery, Washington DC.
    Andy Worhol – “Jewish-Geniuses”, at “The Jewish-Museum,Of-Australia”.
    Andy Warhol, “Moonwalk”, 1987.
    Banana by Andy Warhol.

    This exhibition caused a mild sensation in Los Angeles. The more daring members of the youthful art and film community were intrigued by its novelty. Most people, however, treated “Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans” with indifference, or outright disdain. A nearby art dealer parodied the show by displaying a stack of soup cans, advertising that you could get them cheaper in his gallery. Blum had sold five of the paintings before he recognized that the group (32 cans of soup) functioned best as a single work of art. He bought back the paintings already purchased, including one from Dennis Hopper, then offered to buy the set from Warhol in installments for the modest sum of $3,000. The entire set is now owned by the “MOMA” and is worth at least $32,000,000.00.

    Photo booth, by Andy Warhol.

    With his Campbell’s Soup Cans installation at “Ferus Gallery”, the artist realised the possibility of creating works in series, and the visual effect of serial imagery. He continued making variations on his Soup Cans, stencilling multiple cans within a single canvas and so amplifying the effect of products stacked in a grocery store, an idea that he would later develop in the box sculptures.

    Winston Churchill by, Andy Worhol.


    “Tennessee Williams” by Andy Warhol.

    He also realized that serial repetition of an image drained it of its meaning, an interesting phenomenon most poignantly presented in his “Disasters” exhibits, in which constant exposure to violence numbs the senses. This loosely connected group of seventy-odd ‘disaster’ artworks take as their subjects from car accidents, suicides, electric chairs, even tainted cans of tuna fish.

    Andy Warhol’s, “Electric Chair”.

    Warhol appropriated source material from newspapers and police photo archives and used the silk screen as a means to mechanically repeat these lurid images across broad swaths of canvas. Whether Warhol intended to intensify or blunt the menacing content of these pictures via repetition is an open question. 

    Double Elvis, by Andy Warhol.

    Perhaps the most significant outcome of this series was the artist’s push towards ‘printing’ (silk screen) to achieve the mechanical appearance he sought in paintings.

    Dogs by Andy Warhol.

    Andrew Warhola was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His parents had emigrated to the USA from “Ruthenia”, a region now in the “Slovak Republic”. Between 1945 and 1949 Warhol studied at the “Carnegie Institute of Technology”. In 1949, he moved to New York and changed his name to Warhol.

    POP! HELLO, by Andy Warhol.

    In the 1949, soon after graduation Warhol moved to New York City to pursue a career as a commercial artist / illustrator. His work debuted in “Glamour Magazine” in September 1949. Warhol became one of the most successful illustrators of the 1950s, winning numerous awards.

    Marilyn Monroe Stamp by Andy Warhol.

    Why did Andy Warhol paint a soup cans?

    Warhol said of Campbell’s Soup… “I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years, I guess, the same thing, over and over again.” Towards the end of 1962, shortly he completed the painting of Campbell’s Soup Cans and turned to the photo-silkscreen process.

    Andy Warhol Signing a Silkscreen Print, 1965.

    Warhol’s Studio: dubbed “The Factory” was in New York City and situated in three different locations between 1962 and 1984. The original location of “The Factory” was on the fifth floor at 231 East 47th Street, in Midtown Manhattan. The rent was one hundred dollars per year.  The Factory” had a total of three different locations between 1962 and 1984.  He then relocated his studio to the sixth floor of the Decker Building at 33 Union Square West near the corner of East 16th Street, where he was shot (but not killed) in 1968 by Valerie Solanas. She was an American radical feminist, best known for writing the “SCUM Manifesto” and for attempting to murder artist Andy Warhol in the late 1960s.”The Factory” was revamped and remained there until 1973 when it moved to 860 Broadway at the north end of Union Square. Although this space was much larger, not much filmmaking took place there. In 1984 Warhol moved his remaining ventures, no longer including filming, to 22 East 33rd Street, a conventional office building.

    John Lenin by, Andy Warhol.

    Andy Warhol was the most successful and highly paid commercial illustrator in New York even before he began to make art destined for galleries. Nevertheless, his screen printed images of Marilyn Monroe, soup cans, plus sensational newspaper stories, quickly became synonymous with the “Pop Art” movement.

    Pop Celebrity Quadro, by Andy Warhol.

    Pop art is now also associated with the work of New York artists of the early 1960s such as Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Claes Oldenburg. They all drew on popular imagery and were part of an international phenomenon in various cities from the mid-1950s onwards.

    Elvis Presley by Andy Warhol.

    While not commenting literally, with detachment Warhol reflects the reality of the ‘mashup’ of popular American culture and art.  His works call for viewers to project their own interpretation of contemporary culture, that is, or maybe simultaneously art. 

    Billie Holiday, Andy Warhol. Ink, ballpoint pen, Dr. Martin’s Aniline Dye on paper collage. 10 ¼ X 10 ⅛ in. (26 x 25.7 cm).

    By not spelling out the meaning of his subjects, and by adopting an air of ironic and nonjudgmental detachment, Warhol allows each viewer to determine his or her own opinion towards his art, which itself reflects American culture in a way that is ingeniously ambivalent. Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962 and other subjects.

    Born: August 6, 1928, Pittsburgh, PA

    Died: February 22, 1987, Manhattan, New York City, NY

    Movies: Chelsea Girls, Blow Job, Sleep, Empire, More

    Periods: Pop art, Modern art


    in August 6, 1928, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, The United States.


    February 22, 1987



    Arts & Photography

    ‘Andrew Warhola’, best known as ‘Andy Warhol’, was an American artist and the central figure in the “Pop art” movement. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Andy Warhol became famous worldwide for his work as a painter, an avant-garde filmmaker, a record producer, an author, and a public figure known for his membership in wildly diverse social circles that included bohemian street people, distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy aristocrats. A controversial figure during his lifetime (his work was often derided by critics as a hoax, or ‘put-on’), Warhol has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books, feature and documentary films since his death in 1987.

    The Andy Warhol Museum is located on the North Shore of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It is the largest museum in the North America dedicated to a single artist.
    117 Sandusky St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

    The “Andy Warhol’s Museum” collection includes 900 paintings; approximately 100 sculptures; nearly 2,000 works on paper; more than 1,000 published and unique prints; and 4,000 photographs. The collection also features wallpaper and books by Warhol, covering the entire range of his work from all periods, and includes student work from the 1940s, 1950s drawings, commercial illustrations and sketchbooks; 1960s Pop paintings of consumer products (Campbell’s Soup Cans), celebrities (Liz, Jackie, Marilyn, Elvis), Disasters and Electric Chairs; portrait paintings (Mao),Skull paintings and the abstract Oxidations from the 1970s; and works from the 1980s such as The Last Supper, Raphael I-6.99 and collaborative paintings made with younger artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Francesco Clemente. Drawings by Warhol’s mother Julia Warhola are also included in the art collection.

    Pop art as a movement ‘combined’ well known images, plus themes made known by consumer and commercial media, but with pure artistic and non-commercial intent.   The nuances of each label and the novelty of reading label descriptions as part of a piece of art was ‘unheard of’ at the time. Today, we find it commonplace to view captioned and labeled images in tandem.  Andy Warhol used information, as art.

    “Angkor Wat Cambodia” Andy Warhol, ballpoint pen on manilla paper, 17 x 14 in. (43.2 x 35.6 cm.).

    Andy made it OK to put ordinary things into art and proved that there is as much IMPACT can be had from a cartoon style still life of a soup can, as from a table full of fruit.  Maybe, even more!

    Andy Warhol was a commercial illustrator for comics and ads who painted soup cans in order to differentiate himself from the works of Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist whom he admired, but was afraid of being accused of copying .  By selecting something as different as a can of soup, Warhol was able to express himself without risk of being labeled a “me too” or copycat.

    Bald- Andy Worhol, graphite and gouche on Strathmore Seconds paper.
    Andy Warhol Campbell Cans, designed by Andy to be viewed as set.

    In the spring of 1962, Warhol had been working on his new renditions of ads and comic strips when he saw Roy Lichtenstein’s comic-strip paintings at Leo Castelli Gallery. Soliciting suggestions for subjects to paint, he asked a friend, who suggested he choose something that everybody recognised like Campbell’s Soup. In a flash of inspiration he bought cans from the store and began to trace projections onto canvas, tightly painting within the outlines to resemble the appearance of the original offset lithographed labels. Instead of the dripping paint in his previous ads and comics, here Warhol sought the precision of mechanical reproduction. At this time he received a return studio visit from Irving Blum of “Ferus Gallery”, Los Angeles, who was expecting to see comic-strip paintings and was surprised by the new soup cans, immediately offering the artist a show that summer. Expanding his subject, he decided to paint one of each of the ‘thirty-two’ varieties of Campbell’s soups. Blum exhibited the cans on shelves running the length of his gallery.

    Andy Warhol, ballpoint pen and watercolor on laid paper.

    Basically, Warhol threw some ‘pop’ consumer inspired images onto canvas and changed the face of modern art forever!

    Andy Warhol, Ink On Paper 11 x 8 1-2 in. (27.9 x 21.6 cm.)

    Quotes from Andy Warhol:

    “You have to be willing to get happy about nothing.”

    “The idea is not to live forever, it is to create something that will.”

    “Everything has it’s beauty, but not everyone sees it”

    “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

    “Everyone will be famous for ’15’ minutes.”

    “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the ‘best’ art.”

    “Art is what you can get away with.”

    “Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.”

    “I think having land and not ruining it, is the most beautiful art that anyone could ever want to own.”

    “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and there I am.”

    “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do”.

    “What’s great about this country is America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV see Coca-Cola, know the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke and just think… you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good.”

    “The mystery was gone but the amazement was just starting.”

    “Fantasy love is much better than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting. The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet.”

    “But I always say, one’s company, two’s a crowd, and three’s a party”.

    “If everyone isn’t beautiful, then no one is.”

    “I always think about what it means to wear eyeglasses. When you get used to glasses you don’t know how far you could really see. I think about all the people before eyeglasses were invented. It must have been weird because everyone was seeing in different ways according to how bad their eyes were. Now, eyeglasses standardize everyone’s vision to 20-20. That’s an example of everyone becoming more alike. Everyone could be seeing at different levels if it weren’t for glasses.”

    “People should fall in love with their eyes closed. Just close your eyes. Don’t look and it’s magic”

    “Fantasy love is much better than Reality Love.”

    “Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, “So what.”

    “My mother didn’t love me.” “So what”.

    “My husband won’t ball me.” “So what”.

    “I’m a success but I’m still alone.” “So what”.

    “I don’t know how I made it through all the years before I learned how to do that trick. It took a long time for me to learn it, but once you do, you never forget.”

    “You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.”

    “I’m the type who’d be happy not going anywhere as long as I was sure I knew exactly what was happening at the places I wasn’t going to. I’m the type who’d like to sit home and watch every party that I’m invited to on a monitor in my bedroom.”

    “Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?”

    “You have to be willing to get happy about nothing.”

    “The idea is not to live forever, it is to create something that will.”

    “I don’t know where the artificial stops and the real starts.”

    “People need to be made more aware of the need to work at learning how to live because life is so quick and sometimes it goes away too quickly.”

    “An artist is someone who produces things that people don’t need to have but that he, for some reason thinks would be a good idea to give them.”

    “The nicer I am, the more people think I’m lying.”

    ‘Why do people spend their time being sad when they could be happy?”

    “I’m really afraid to feel happy because it never lasts”

    “The world fascinates me.”

    “If something’s going to happen for you, it will, you can‘t make it happen. And it never does happen until you’re past the point where you care whether it happens or not.”

    “I guess it’s for your own good that it always happens that way, because after you stop wanting things is where having them won’t make you go crazy.”

    “Just because people throw it out and don’t have any use for it, doesn’t mean it’s garbage.”

    “You know it’s ART, when the check clears.”

    “The biggest price you pay for love is that you have to have somebody around, you can’t be on your own, which is always so much better.”

    “I always notice flowers.”

    “Sex is more exciting on the screen and between the pages than between the sheets”

    “History books are being re-written all the time”

    “So What?”

    “Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, “So what.” That’s one of my favorite things to say. “So what.” “My mother didn’t love me.” So what. “My husband won’t ball me.” So what. “I’m a success but I’m still alone.” So what. I don’t know how I made it through all the years before I learned how to do that trick. It took a long time for me to learn it, but once you do, you never forget.”

    “Business art is the step that comes after art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist. Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. During the hippie era people put down the idea of business. They’d say “money is bad” and “working is bad”. But making money is art, and working is art – and good business is the best art.”

    “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

    “I wake up every morning. I open my eyes and think: here we go again.”

    Brillo, a sculpture by Andy Warhol.

    “They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them, yourself.”

    Jackson Pollock-“Reflections Of The Big Dipper”.

    Paul Jackson Pollock

    (January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956), known professionally as Jackson Pollock, was an American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. He was well known for his unique style of drip painting.

    Jackson Pollock 1928.


    Jackson Pollock was a highly trained artist, who studied seriously with Thomas Harte Benson at New York’s “The Art Student’s League”. Ipso-facto his works are controlled, deliberate and the product of intellect and skill. As radical as ‘his’ paintings look, the styles of many other artists have also evolved and simplified over time.  A prime example are the works of  ‘Mondrian’. Mondrian’s art, like Pollack’s began with recognizable ‘things’ and in time his work became pure shape, line, color and movement.

    Cotten pickers by Jackson Pollack. Thomas Harte Benson was Johnson Pollock’s teacher at “The Art Student’s League” in New York.
    Thomas Hart Benton, taught Jackson Pollock at the “The Art Students League”. This painting by Thomas Hart Benton is called, “The Music Lesson”.

    Famous 20th century artist Jackson Pollock revolutionized the world of modern art with his unique abstract painting techniques.

    PEGGY Guggenheim in front of a Jackson Pollock mural on the Grand Canal, Venice.

    Born in Cody, Wyoming, in 1912.

    “It doesn’t make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something has been said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.”

    Jackson Pollock  During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. He was regarded as a mostly reclusive artist. He had a volatile personality, and struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. In 1945, he married the artist Lee Krasner, who became an important influence on his career and on his legacy. Pollock died at the age of 44 in an alcohol-related car accident. In December 1956, he was given a memorial retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, and a larger more comprehensive exhibition there in 1967. More recently, in 1998 and 1999, his work was honored with large-scale retrospective exhibitions at MoMA and at The Tate in London.

    Jackson Pollock, “Flags”.

    Early Life

    Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming in 1912, the youngest of five sons. His parents, Stella May McClure and Leroy Pollock, grew up in Tingley, Iowa. His father had been born McCoy but took the surname of his neighbors, who adopted him after his own parents had died within a year of each other. Stella and LeRoy Pollock were Presbyterian; the former, Irish; the latter, Scotch-Irish. LeRoy Pollock was a farmer and later a land surveyor for the government. Jackson grew up in Arizona and Chico, California.

    Jackson Pollock painting on glass.

    While living in Echo Park, California, he enrolled at Los Angeles’ Manual Arts High School, from which he was expelled, after having been expelled another high school in 1928. During his early life, he experienced ‘Native American’ culture while on surveying trips with his father. In 1930, following his brother Charles Pollock, he moved to New York City where they both studied under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League of New York. Benton’s rural American subject matter shaped Pollock’s work only fleetingly, but his rhythmic use of paint and his fierce independence were more lasting influences. From 1938 to 1942, Pollock worked for the WPA Federal Art Project.

    Pollock working as usual, on the floor.

    In attempts to fight his alcoholism, from 1938 through 1941 Pollock underwent Jungian psychotherapy with Dr. Joseph Henderson and later with Dr. Violet Staub de Laszlo in 1941-1942. Dr. Henderson was an eclectic who drew upon the spectrum of psychoanalytic theory, including Freud and Jung. Henderson made the decision to engage him through his art and had Pollock make drawings, which led to the appearance of many Jungian concepts in his paintings. Recently it has been hypothesized that Pollock might have had bipolar disorder.

    The Springs period and the unique technique

    In October 1945 Pollock married American painter Lee Krasner, and in November they moved to what is now known as the Pollock-Krasner House and Studio, at 830 Springs Fireplace Road, in Springs on Long Island, NY. Peggy Guggenheim lent them the down payment for the wood-frame house with a nearby barn that Pollock converted into a studio. There he perfected the technique of working with paint with which he became permanently identified.

    Jackson Pollock & Lee Krasner’s house & studio in East Hampton on Long Island.  The down payment was advanced by Peggy Guggenheim.
    Jackson Pollack in his East Hampton New York studio.
    Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock & dog.

    Pollock was introduced to the use of liquid paint in 1936 at an experimental workshop operated in New York City by the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. He later used paint pouring as one of several techniques on canvases of the early 1940s, such as “Male and Female” and “Composition with Pouring I.” After his move to Springs, he began painting with his canvases laid out on the studio floor, and he developed what was later called his “drip” technique, turning to synthetic resin-based paints called alkyd enamels, which, at that time, was a novel medium. Pollock described this use of household paints, instead of artist’s paints, as “a natural growth out of a need.” He used hardened brushes, sticks, and even basting syringes as paint applicators. Pollock’s technique of pouring and dripping paint is thought to be one of the origins of the term action painting.

    Jackson Pollack, working on his property in East Hampton, on Long Island.

    Jackson Pollock poses in front of one of his paintings.

    With this technique, Pollock was able to achieve a more immediate means of creating art, the paint now literally flowing from his chosen tool onto the canvas. By defying the convention of painting on an upright surface, he added a new dimension by being able to view and apply paint to his canvases from all directions. One possible influence on Pollock was the work of the Ukrainian American artist Janet Sobel (1894-1968) (born Jennie Lechovsky). Sobel’s work is related to the so-called “drip paintings” of Jackson Pollock. Peggy Guggenheim included Sobel’s work in her The Art of This Century Gallery in 1945. The critic Clement Greenberg, with Jackson Pollock, saw Sobel’s work there in 1946, and in his essay “American-Type’ Painting” Greenberg cited those works as the first instance of all-over painting he had seen, stating that “Pollock admitted that these pictures had made an impression on him”.

    Jackson Pollock – Action Painting.

    In the process of making paintings in this way, he moved away from figurative representation, and challenged the Western tradition of using easel and brush. He also moved away from the use of only the hand and wrist, since he used his whole body to paint. In 1956, Time magazine dubbed Pollock “Jack the Dripper” as a result of his unique painting style.

    “My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting”

    -Jackson Pollock, My Painting

    Printed ladies skirt depicting a Jackson Pollock painting.


    In 1949, Life magazine ran a feature article about Jackson Pollock that bore this question in the headline: “Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?” Could a painter who flung paint at canvases with a stick, who poured and hurled it to create roiling vortexes of color and line, possibly be considered “great”? New York’s critics certainly thought so, and Pollock’s pre-eminence among the Abstract Expressionists has endured, cemented by the legend of his alcoholism and his early death. The famous ‘drip paintings’ that he began to produce in the late 1940s represent one of the most original bodies of work of the century. At times they could suggest the life-force in nature itself, at others they could evoke man’s entrapment – in the body, in the anxious mind, and in the newly frightening modern world.

    Jackson Pollock, “Water Birds”.

    Key Ideas

    Pollock’s tough and unsettled early life growing up in the American West shaped him into the bullish character he would become. Later, a series of influences came together to guide Pollock to his mature style: years spent painting realist murals in the 1930s showed him the power of painting on a large scale; Surrealism suggested ways to describe the unconscious; and Cubism guided his understanding of picture space.

    Jackson Pollock & wife Lee Krasner, also a famous abstract painter.

    In 1939, Pollock began visiting a Jungian analyst to treat his alcoholism, and his analyst encouraged him to create drawings. These would later feed his paintings, and they shaped Pollock’s understanding of his pictures not only as outpourings of his own mind, but expressions that might stand for the terror of all modern humanity living in the shadow of nuclear war.

    “Going West”:  here we see the influence of Jackson Pollock’s mentor, Thomas Harte Benson.

    Pollock’s greatness lies in developing one of the most radical abstract styles in the history of modern art, detaching line from color, redefining the categories of drawing and painting, and finding new means to describe pictorial space.

    Graves of Jackson Pollock & Lee Krasner Pollock, Green River Cemetary in Springs, East Hampton Cemetary.