“Above everything, there are, for Vicente, the supreme values of luminosity and serenity to which he returns, over and over…” – Elizabeth Frank, Esteban Vicente
Esteban Vicente, the Spanish born artist who came to America in 1936, had the good fortune of working well into his ninth decade and far outliving many of his contemporaries. By 1950, he was already a fixture in New York’s downtown art community as part of the New York School painters. A contemporary of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko, Vicente played a central role in the evolution of Abstract Expressionism. He worked nearly everyday, until his death at age 97, always painting in a studio with natural light.
His paintings are characterized by their spatial patchwork of color in atmospheric hues that question the relationship between center and edge, mass and volume. He sought inspiration from landscapes – first from his native Spain and later from his garden in Bridgehampton, New York – capturing the ever evolving, luminous qualities of light and color that is be found in the natural world.
The exhibition at Tayloe Piggott Gallery Paintings 1990-1999, includes twelve large canvases from the artist’s final stage of his career (1987-1999). In these works, we see the confidence of an artist who has had an entire lifetime to refine his craft, with a freshness and elegance in color and composition.
Esteban Vicente was born in Turégano, Spain in 1903. As a young man living in Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris, he befriended the most prominent artists and writers in Europe. With the encouragement of those new friendships, Vicente had his first exhibition in 1928 with Juan Bonafé at the Ateneo de Madrid. After leaving Europe for the United States, Vicente made his home in New York City in 1936 becoming contemporaries with Willem de Kooning, Elaine de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Barnett Newman, and Ad Reinhardt.
The artist spent a large portion of his career teaching at Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, NC; the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, New York, NY; and the University of California, Berkeley, CA. Vicente’s works can be found in important collections and museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, among many others. At the end of his life the Spanish government honored Vicente by opening the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Esteban Vicente in Segovia.