Alice Trumbull Mason


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Painter and printmaker. Her refined but varied abstract work includes both rectilinear and organic approaches. Born in Litchfield, Connecticut, Alice Bradford Trumbull spent much of her youth in Europe, where she first pursued training in art. After returning to the United States, she studied at the National Academy of Design with Charles Hawthorne and later worked with Arshile Gorky. In 1930 she married Warwood E. Mason. Widely conversant with the forms of modernist abstraction, she developed the belief that abstract art provided the best opportunity for the artist to work on a universally effective level. In 1936 she participated in the formation of the Abstract American Artists and remained a leader in the association for some three decades. By 1929 she had developed a completely nonobjective style, based on precedents in the work of Kandinsky and Miró. In the early 1930s, Mason often painted loosely defined color areas in counterpoint with gestural lines and other markings, but her characteristic mature works demonstrate greater control. Brown Shapes White (Philadelphia Museum, 1941) features three smoothly painted and sharply edged organic brown forms floating beneath an overlay of elegant black lines that bind the image together. Through a personal friendship with Mondrian while he resided in New York during the 1940s, she was inspired to create a number of compositions based solely on verticals and horizontals. However, idiosyncratic color combinations and irregular distributions of rectangular shapes distinguish her approach from his. After embarking in the mid-1940s on printmaking at Atelier 17, she produced numerous etchings, often incorporating soft-ground and aquatint, demonstrating a wide range of coloristic effects achieved through texture. In the later years of Mason's life, her work showed a simplification of form. She died at her home in New York. Her daughter EmilyMason (1932– ), also a painter, is known for chromatic abstractions. She studied for two years at Bennington (Vermont) College before transferring to Cooper Union, where she earned a BFA degree in 1955. She continued her study of painting in Venice and in 1957 married Wolf Kahn.

Subjects: Art.

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