Lawrence Fine Art

Name : Charlotte Park
Biography :

 We live in an era of rediscoveries in the arts. One aspect of that is the growing awareness that the work of women artists in the 20th century was marginalized or outright ignored due to sexism both individual and institutional. In the case of the abstract artists of the post-World War II period, the neglect is particularly glaring, not only because so many important contributors were women but because of the cult of machismo among so many of the male artists, and the press’ endorsement of that mindset.

 
Charlotte Park (1918-2020) is now increasingly accepted as one of the important Abstract Expressionists of the period. In her review of a Park retrospective in 2010, NYT art critic Roberta Smith called her “a natural painter and gifted colorist,” singling out one work from the exhibition as deserving “prominent placement in a museum.” (Park’s work is now in the collections of the National Gallery, the Whitney, and the Parrish Art Museum.)
 
Her work, in a creative career spanning more than half a century, shows a strength and self-assurance that conflict quite noticeably with the artist’s low-profile approach to publicity, and certainly give the lie to any stereotyping about feminine versus masculine styles in painting.
 
Born in Massachusetts, she graduated from the Yale School of Art in 1939. She went to work for the OSS, the precursor of the CIA, in Washington during WWII and there met the artist James Brooks. In 1947, she and Brooks were married. They had already become part of the downtown avant-garde art scene that revolved around the Cedar Tavern and the Eighth Street Artists Club. Park and Brooks were good friends with Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, but among the hard-partying artists in those circles they stood out as a quiet and relatively abstemious couple.
 
Park and Brooks followed Krasner and Pollock’s lead in moving out to the Hamptons (or the East End, as it was known back then), settling in Montauk, while their friends established themselves in the town of Springs. They had side-by-side studios.
 
Roberta Smith describes her early work this way: "Ms. Park effortlessly reconciled painting and drawing, deriving a lively formal vocabulary from clusters of loops and spheres."
 
In the ’60s, when this work was painted, Park moved into a gentler, more contemplative phase. Works from this period show smaller patches of color interacting, with an airier quality communicated by a layer of white underpainting.
 
Early on Park showed at the Tanager Gallery and in the Stable Gallery shows from 1954-1958. After that she showed intermittently. She had a retrospective at Spanierman Modern in 2010 right after her death.
 
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