Alfred H. Maurer


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American painter, a pioneer of modernism in his country. He was born in New York, son of LouisMaurer (1832–1932), a lithographer who worked for the famous Currier & Ives firm of popular printmakers. After studying at the National Academy of Design and working as a lithographer, Alfred went to Paris in 1897 and briefly attended the Académie Julian; apart from a short visit to America in 1901, he remained in Paris until 1914. His early style was influenced by Whistler, and he won first prize at the Carnegie International Exhibition in 1901 with a picture that was virtually an act of homage to him—An Arrangement (1901, Whitney Museum, New York), showing a woman in front of a Japanese screen. About 1907 Gertrude Stein introduced Maurer to the work of the Fauves, and he rapidly became a convert to a modernist idiom. His paintings in the Fauvist style were introduced to America by Stieglitz in a joint exhibition with John Marin at the 291 Gallery in 1909, and when Arthur B. Davies and Walt Kuhn visited Paris in 1912 to prepare for the Armory Show they were helped by Maurer with introductions to the dealer Ambroise Vollard. Maurer himself exhibited in the Armory Show (1913), in the Forum exhibition (see Wright) that followed it in 1916, and in the first exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917.

During the 1920s he reverted to a more naturalistic style, and an air of melancholy in his work has been interpreted as sorrow for promise unfulfilled. In the early 1930s he painted some pictures featuring Cubist mannerisms (Still-life with Doily, 1930–31, Brandeis University Art Collection), but by this time he no longer took part in avant-garde activities. The final loss of confidence in his work seems to have been caused by the acclaim that his father started to receive in his extreme old age; with the flowering of Regionalism, Louis's scenes of the American West suddenly took on a new lease of life. A month after his father died, at the age of 100, Maurer hanged himself.

Subjects: Art.

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