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The Painted Environment: Landscapes and Still Lifes by Harold Weston

April 1 - 27, 2019

New York

For more Information:

Press Release

Gerald Peters Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition, The Painted Environment: Landscapes and Still Lifes by Harold Weston. Spanning the breadth of Weston's career with works from 1918 through 1971, the exhibition explores the essential role that the environment played in Weston's artistic production.

Born in Merion, Pennsylvania, in 1894, Harold Weston decided early on a career as an artist, studying art as an undergraduate at Harvard and attending Hamilton Easter Field's Summer School of Graphic Arts in Ogunquit, Maine, where he had his first contact with modern art through works by William Zorach, Marsden Hartley, and others. Establishing his aesthetic allegiance with a strain of modernism that eschewed the urban, modernized world in favor of the natural, Weston found his inspiration in the world that surrounded him.

From his earliest forays into art, Weston painted his environment. He found sustaining inspiration in the physical world. The seemingly exotic landscapes of Mesopotamia and Persia (now Iraq and Iran) that he encountered during his service with the YMCA during World War I; the familiar yet inspiring mountains of the Adirondacks that surrounded the cabin he built in St. Hubert's, New York, in 1920 - these were among his earliest sources. Weston continued this line of exploration as he traveled to the Pyrenees in the late 1920s and to Greece in the 1950s, delineating the landscape on canvas and paper through every stage. Finally, his focus narrowed to the microcosm of lichen, leaf, and stone that inspired his final series of landscape environments beginning in the 1960s.

But even when Weston began to broaden his subject matter, the landscape remained primary. In the 1930s, he was painting intricately realized still lifes, interior scenes built of autobiographical objects that speak of his life, his family, and his home. In these, Weston did not abandon his natural surroundings but rather incorporated them - physically or stylistically, or both - into his indoor compositions. These became Weston's "still-life environments," as Valerie Ann Leeds has described. The landscape, which Weston continued to paint, informed them. Elements of the out-of-doors - a mimosa branch; a hawthorne clipping - became stand-ins for the world beyond his home, out of sight but not out of mind. A pillow or carpet was rendered in the same undulating, curving form that he used to delineate the mountains beyond his door, bringing the landscape inside with each brushstroke and each new composition. Weston's interiors became landscapes in their own right, inextricably linked to the outside world in form and philosophy, allowing this "composer of nature" a new venue for his vision of the environment.

The Painted Environment: Landscapes and Still Lifes by Harold Weston will be on view from April 1 through 27th. A PDF catalogue will be available through the gallery on request. For further information, contact Alexandra Polemis Vigil: 212-628-9760 or apolemis@gpgalleryny.com.

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Artist Information

Harold Weston was born in Merion, PA.  He graduated from Harvard University, with a degree in fine arts (Phi Beta Kappa) and was the editor of The Lampoon.   Polio contracted as a teenager made him unfit for military service during World War I, but he was attached to the British Army from 1916-19 as a YMCA volunteer and subsequently appointed the official painter for the British military in India and Mesopotamia (now Iraq).

Returning to the United States in 1920, Weston built a one-room studio in the Adirondacks at St. Huberts, NY, a site with which he would be associated for the rest of his life.  His first exhibition of Adirondack landscapes at Montross Galleries in New York in 1922 was both critically and commercially successful.  Due to illness, Weston was forced to leave the Adirondacks during the years 1926-30.  He and his young family went to Paris, but settled in the Pyrenees.  He returned to New York City and then to St. Huberts in 1930.

From 1936-38, Weston painted murals for the General Services Administration Building in Washington, DC, through the Treasury Relief Art Project. During World War II, he moved to Washington, DC, to organize the provision of food to postwar Europe, having seen famine first-hand in the Middle East.

An indefatigable organizer, Weston was active throughout the 1950s and 1960s in arts advocacy groups, helping achieve federal arts legislation, including the National Endownment for the Arts. He was also an author, publishing Freedom in the Wilds: A Saga of the Adirondacks the year before his death.

Works by Harold Weston are in the collections of, among others, the Phillips Collection; the Harvard Art Museums; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the National Gallery; Yale University Art Gallery; the Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art; the Adirondack Experience, the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake; the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum; the University Art Collection at Syracuse University; the Springfield Art Museum, Missouri; the Wichita Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Butler Institute of American Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.