'Walter Quirt: A Legacy of American Painting' exhibition of artist's work to connemorate 121st birthday

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'Walter Quirt: A Legacy of American Painting' exhibition of artist's work to connemorate 121st birthday
Walter Quirt,(1902-1968) Untitled (Surrealist White Figures with Black Man), c.1939-40. Oil on Canvas, 12 x 15.

SEATTLE, WA.- Frederick Holmes And Company Gallery - exclusive representative of the art-historic estate of seminal American Modernist, WALTER QUIRT (1902-1968) - announces a month long exhibition of paintings, drawings, and works on paper on the main floor of the Seattle gallery in commemoration of the artist’s 121st birthdate, November 24, 1902. Many of these will be the first time they’ve been seen in public and available for purchase since their inception.

Quirt’s career spanned over thirty-five years during one of the most critically influential, game-changing periods in American art history. Moving to New York in 1929, he quickly became immersed in the avant-garde movements beginning to emerge in pre-war New York. He became deeply engaged with the leftist John Reed Club, becoming its secretary and creating political cartoons for their publications. His leftist leanings found form in his painting, which, using the psychological tenets of European Surrealism, expressed his concerns and anger about racism, income disparity, and labor rights, and was deemed “social surrealism”. Quirt earned his first solo show in 1936 at the Julien Levy Gallery, Levy describing him as a “radical painter”. One year later, Alfred Barr, founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, selected Walter Quirt and Salvador Dali as the primary spokesmen for surrealism, in MoMA’s groundbreaking exhibition, “FANTASTIC ART, DADA, AND SURREALISM”, 1937-1938.

By the late 1930s Quirt began to transition from “social surrealism”, and through the 1940s explored less ideologically driven, more visually complex surreal, cubist, and expressionist styles; many of which still retained his interest in the human condition and figure. With WPA stipends being terminated in 1943, and his wife, Eleanor’s announcement of expecting their first child, Quirt and Eleanor left New York in Summer, 1944 to begin teaching; the artist ultimately accepting an offer from The University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

No longer living in New York, Quirt continued to exhibit in numerous NYC galleries and museums. His teacher’s salary enabled him to support his family while freeing him from the often fickle demands of the market. Restless and always experimenting, Quirt’s painting became more diverse and eclectic, while still retaining the signature quality of a mature artist in command of line, color, and brush. In 1960, he was given a traveling retrospective, produced by The American Federation of Arts, which was exhibited in seventeen cities,1960-1962.

Walter Quirt passed away March 19, 1968 in Minneapolis. Eleanor, now a grieving widow unable to part with her husbands works, placed it all in storage, where it remained hidden from the public. The University of Minnesota produced a short-lived retrospective in 1980, after which all the work was placed back in storage again, until its rediscovery in 2015.

Travis Wilson, a colleague of Holmes, rediscovered Walter Quirt in Sidney Janis’ book, “Abstract and Surrealist Work In America” 1944, and was astonished to find this remarkable painter, on the same page as another remarkable, and still little known artist, Jackson Pollock.

In 2015, Wilson and Holmes collaborated on the first exhibition of Walter Quirt that had been produced in decades, WALTER QUIRT: REVOLUTION UNSEEN in Seattle, WA; following up a year later with WALTER QUIRT: WORKS ON PAPER, 2016. Their collaboration ended with Wilson accepting a Director position with a San Francisco gallery.

Frederick Holmes and Company has been the late artist’s exclusive representative since then and produced a comprehensive retrospective in 2017, WALTER QUIRT: A SCIENCE OF LIFE, with an 82-page color exhibition catalogue.

Walter Quirt’s work was featured in seven Whitney Annuals and Six MoMA group shows. His paintings and works on paper can be found in the permanent public collections of over thirty prestigious museums and institutions. His letters and papers were recently accepted by The Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

Frederick Holmes And Company Gallery
'Walter Quirt: A Legacy of American Painting'
November 2nd, 2023 - December 4th, 2023

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