Lawrence Fine Art

Name : Agnes Hart
Biography :
Like many of her compatriots, Agnes Hart first began to paint in a social realist, or WPA, style. Later in her career, after WWII, she moved to abstraction and created vibrant, impactful works culminating in a series of oil and sand paintings painted in the early 1970s for which she is best known. Hart was the wife of artist Josef Presser with whom she enjoyed a tempestuous marriage largely due to his bi-polar disorder.
 
Like many women of the period--think Lee Krasner or Elaine DeKooning--it is possible to say that she put her husband's career ahead of her own until his death. She was good friends with Sally and Milton Avery most of her career and first exhibited at RoKo Gallery in 1948. RoKo was the first to introduce the works of Milton Avery and Alex Katz.
 
One critic characterizes her later work thusly: "The (oil and sand paintings_ represent an artist who has found her unique voice; a natural voice totally unforced, unaffected, unlabored. Informed by the work of her contemporaries, they are, nonetheless, free of any influence of her teachers, especially that of the ever-present Joe. The more complicated her married life became, the greater the need for her work to be the place for regaining balance, sense of self, and a measure of tranquility. In this, Agnes owes a great debt to her longtime friend Milton Avery whose work with its reduction of detail and simplified composition, assuring him in art history an internal place on the bridge to abstraction, had a decisive impact on her..."
 
Indeed Avery was quite a fan of Hart's work. Hart's biographer relates the following story: " I met Sally Avery was over lunch at Agnes’ apartment during which Sally, somewhat unguardedly, pointed at a recent painting by Agnes and related about how not long before he died, Milton said to her he thought in some ways Agnes had already arrived where he was headed..."
 
Hart had numerous one-woman exhibitions, primarily in Woodstock in the 50s, 60s and 70s, and was in many group exhibitions including the Met "American Painting Today" (1950), the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Butler Art Institute, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Academy of Design. Her work is in the collection of the Met, the Woodstock Artists' Association Museum and the Norfolk Museum.
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