Alfonso Ossorio was a central figure in the advancement of art after World War II as well as the cross-cultural dialogue between American and European artists. Born into great wealth in the Philippines in 1916, Ossorio was first known for his importance as a collector, particularly of Abstract Expressionism, Art Brut and Surrealist art. Most notably, he was close personal friends with artists Jackson Pollock and Jean Dubuffet, amassing hundreds of works by each over the years and drawing influence from their ideas and techniques for his own artwork. His kinship, generosity and patronage fostered their experimentation and played a pivotal role in their artistic development. While this altruism was highly impactful art historically, it has perhaps overshadowed Ossorio's influence as an artist in his own right.
Ossorio was extremely experimental as a painter, his style purposefully eclectic and indefinable. He created his own mode of expression by synthesizing a range of influences including Abstract Expressionism, Art Brut and Surrealism, as well as his Catholic, Hispanic and Asian cultures. "Untitled" exemplifies this atypical and original fusion - the dynamic yet organized complexity of Expressionism and the archaic, raw qualities of Art Brut, both of which are dominant forces within his work.
Furthermore, the intensive wax-resist technique which he used to create this work was inspired by Surrealist painter and sculptor Victor Brauner. This process involved the use of wax in combination with watercolor or ink. The artist would first rub a candlestick onto the paper's surface, which would resist the subsequently applied water-based media painted on top, causing it to run as it attempted to adhere to the paper.—Courtesy of Freeman's
Signature: Signed with the artist's monogram, dated 70 bottom left and incised indistinctly bottom right
"Alfonso Ossorio: 1940-1980," Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York, July 19 – August 17, 1980 (exhibition catalogue no. 73, illustrated).
Mrs. Barbara Hale, New York, New York.
By family descent.
Private Collection, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
About Alfonso Ossorio
Alfonso Ossorio synthesized Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and Art Brut styles over the course of his career. His early works were inspired by Surrealism, although he created these paintings by pouring oil and enamel paint onto canvas—a technique aligned with abstract expressionist art. A meeting with Jean Dubuffet sparked Ossorio’s interest in Art Brut, as he was drawn to the form’s shedding of fine art preconceptions. Ossorio’s career is marked by an oscillation between the influences of Jackson Pollock and Dubuffet—both of whom the artist was friends with—and experimentation with abstraction and figuration. “Congregations,” a series of Dubuffet-inspired assemblages, evoke a Catholic spirit and decorative energy that is characteristic of Ossorio’s paintings.