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 Theodoros S Stamos  (1922 - 1997)

About: Theodoros S Stamos
 

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: painting-biomorph to geometric, surrealist

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BIOGRAPHY for Theodoros Stamos
Facts/Data
Birth
1922 (Manhattan, New York)
 
Death
1997 (Yiannia, Greece)

Lived/Active
New York

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painting-biomorph to geometric, surrealist

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Abstract Expressionism
Modernism
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A first-generation Abstract Expressionists, Theodoros Stamos is known for paintings done later in his career, which is large expanses of dissolved light. Underestimated at first by Clement Greenberg, New York critic whose commentary often decided the reputation of Abstract Expressionists, Greenberg later wrote: I scorched his show and I was wrong. You keep on learning." (Falk 3138)

Of his painting, Stamos said: "The great figurative painters were involved with grandeur of vision, using the figure as a means to an end, whereas today the best of the abstrtact painters are also involved with a grandeur of vision using color as their means toward a new space-light." (Herskovic 318)

Stamos was also an art educator and held positions at the Art Students League, Columbia University, Black Mountain College and Brandeis University.

Stamos was born in Manhattan to Greek immigrant parents and studied sculpture for three years, 1936 to 1939, at the American Artist's School. In 1939, he turned to painting, and in this medium was basically self taught.

With their amorphous shapes and busy lines, his first paintings resembled those of Mark Rothko, who became his close companion, and of William Baziotes. Stamos' colors were in tonal clusters, vague and undifferentiated.

During the 1940s, Theodore Stamos ran a framing shop near Union Square where his customers included modernists Arshile Gorky and Fernand Leger. In 1943, he had his first solo show at Betty Parsons Gallery. Several years later, he began painting with distinct bands of color, usually black or very dark, and then in the 1950s, his work was much less controlled, more violent, emotive, and confrontational.

In 1950, Theodore Stamos was the youngest artist to be included in the famous "irascibles" photograph of leading Abstract Expressionists. He began a "Sun Box" series in 1963 with shapes that took on enormous size, filling almost the entire surface of the canvas, with the suggestion of atmospheric light and organic expansion.

A close friend of Mark Rothko's, he was executor of his estate and later found guilty of negligence in a 1975 trial. He and the Marlborough Gallery were fine $9.2 million dollars.

In later years he lived between New York and the Greek Island of Lefkada.


Sources include:
Matthew Baigell, "Dictionary of American Art"
Marika Herskovic, "American Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s: An Illustrated Survey"
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"


Biography from Hollis Taggart Galleries (Artists, S-Z):
Theorodos Stamos is heralded as one of the few abstract painters who bridged the New York School’s first and second generations. His age, in particular, afforded him this unique position, as he was the youngest member of the “Irascibles,” the core group of fifteen New York School painters publicized by Nina Leen’s 1951 photograph in "Life" magazine. Like his New York School contemporaries, in particular his close friends Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, Stamos continuously explored the workings of artistic form through color. Throughout his long career, Stamos has continued to be renowned as an abstract expressionist.

Born in 1922 in New York to parents of Greek heritage, Stamos showed exceptional promise early in life. At thirteen years old, in 1936, he accepted a scholarship to the American Artists’ School in New York to study sculpture with Simon Kennedy and Joseph Konzal. He would later abandon sculpture in favor of painting, a medium in which he was largely self-taught. At the American Artists School he met Joseph Salmon who was a member of the politically engaged group of artists called “The Ten”, which included Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko. Solmon encouraged Stamos to paint and to visit New York galleries, where he saw the paintings of Milton Avery, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin and Paul Klee. He also visited the American Museum of Natural History and read texts on the natural sciences and translations Chinese and Japanese literature. His first paintings represented primitive Greek imagery and landscapes of the New Jersey Palisades.

Stamos was an active player in the New York avant-garde during the early years of Abstract Expressionism. His art attracted the attention not only of noted dealer Betty Parsons but also of museums and private collectors, among them the Museum of Modern Art, Peggy Guggenheim, and Edward R. Root, who began to acquire works by the artist. His work first caught the eye of Parsons, who organized his first solo exhibition at her Wakefield Gallery and Bookstore in 1943, when the artist was just twenty-one. Other commercial and critical success followed, and from 1943 to 1947, Stamos received three one-man shows and participated in several important group exhibitions, including the Whitney Museum’s annual and the important early show of Abstract Expressionist painting, “The Ideographic Picture,” which was curated by Barnett Newman at Betty Parsons Gallery. Stamos established lasting friendships with both Newman and Rothko, who shared with the younger artist an interest in primitive and mythological imagery.

A lover of travel, in 1947 Stamos traveled throughout the United States, visiting New Mexico, California, and the Northwest. In 1948 he sailed for Europe, visiting France, Italy, and Greece. In Paris he met many of the renowned modernists including Picasso, Brancusi and Giacometti. Always sensitive to the particularities of light, mood, and color of specific locales, Stamos’s paintings are indexes of his responses to different places. Later in his career, he devoted several series of paintings to sites including Jerusalem, Delphi, and Lefkada, an island in the Ionian Sea.

Throughout his career, Stamos was also a dedicated teacher and held numerous positions. He taught at Hartley Settlement House for four years in the early 1950s, and at the progressive Black Mountain College, where he met Clement Greenberg and had Kenneth Noland as one of his students. In 1951, Stamos moved to East Marion, New York, where he developed an expressive color-field technique. In 1955, he began teaching at the Art Students League in New York, a position he would hold for twenty-two years. His prolific painting career continued in the 1990’s, when ACA Galleries, New York and the Municipal Art Gallery in Thessaloniki, Greece honored him with retrospective exhibitions. After a prolonged illness, Stamos died on February 2, 1997.

Stamos’s art appears in countless private and public collections in the United States and internationally, among them The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; National Picture Gallery, Athens, Greece; San Francisco Art Institute Galleries; Tel Aviv Museum, Israel; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; The Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; The Chrysler Art Museum, Norfolk, Virginia; The Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; and Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung, Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich, Germany.

© Copyright 2007 Hollis Taggart Galleries

Biography from Levis Fine Art:
As the youngest member of The Irascibles, Theodoros Stamos developed his artistic style during the highpoint of Abstract Expressionism.  His style changed dramatically during his career, beginning with biomorphic forms and later advancing into pure color abstraction.  His adventurous approach, transient style and expressive color palettes give credit to his association with the Abstract Expressionists and reign him in the top ranks among his contemporaries.  His ingenuity is most expressive in his works which create the effect of luminosity using a medium that is, by definition, opaque.

Born and raised in Manhattan, Stamos sought refuge from the stark and vapid environment in the Museum of Natural History.  The fossil, mineral and single-celled organism exhibits both intrigued and perplexed him.  With an affinity for nature and its biomorphic components, Stamos created his earliest works as a metaphor for the world he saw before him; one of simplicity forever lost in the hurricane of complexity.

Between 1949 and 1955, Stamos’ works were juxtapositions of “shadowy presences, translucent hazes, and delicate calmness alongside the encroachment of an orientalizing type of calligraphy”. (Knoedler Zurich Catalogue: Stamos) These works have a delicate soft side to them; their brushstrokes are graceful and lyrical and their palettes hold a melancholic weight to them.

Stamos’ later works are explosive in color and in size. Their initial impact is one of strength and dominance, yet at closer observation they are filled with endless ambiguities and uncertainties.

Stamos’ career as an artist has proven to be extremely successful, despite the changes the art market has undergone over the past decades.  The irony in his work is not accidental, it is reasoned through by concrete means and as a result it reflects a sense of solidity.  The true testament to Stamos’ world, whether imaginative, tangible, explosive or subtle, stems from the natural world of chaos and order.

Stamos’ works are in more than forty-five museums and numerous private collections.

© 2008 Levis Fine Art, Inc.


Biography from Hollis Taggart Galleries (Artists, R-Z):

Theodoros Stamos (1922- 1997)

Theodoros Stamos is heralded as one of the few abstract painters who bridged the New York School’s first and second generations. His age, in particular, afforded him this unique position, as he was the youngest member of the “Irascibles,” the core group of fifteen New York School painters publicized by Nina Leen’s 1951 photograph in Life magazine.  Like his New York School contemporaries, in particular his close friends Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, Stamos continuously explored the workings of artistic form through color. Throughout his long career, Stamos has continued to be renowned as an abstract expressionist

Born in 1922 in New York to parents of Greek heritage, Stamos showed exceptional promise early in life.  At thirteen years old, in 1936, he accepted a scholarship to the American Artists’ School in New York to study sculpture with Simon Kennedy and Joseph Konzal. He would later abandon sculpture in favor of painting, a medium in which he was largely self-taught. At the American Artists School he met Joseph Salmon who was a member of the politically engaged group of artists called “The Ten”, which included Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko. Solmon encouraged Stamos to paint and to visit New York galleries, where he saw the paintings of Milton Avery, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin and Paul Klee.  He also visited the American Museum of Natural History and read texts on the natural sciences and translations Chinese and Japanese literature. His first paintings represented primitive Greek imagery and landscapes of the New Jersey Palisades.

Stamos was an active player in the New York avant-garde during the early years of Abstract Expressionism. His art attracted the attention not only of noted dealer Betty Parsons but also of museums and private collectors, among them the Museum of Modern Art, Peggy Guggenheim, and Edward R. Root, who began to acquire works by the artist. His work first caught the eye of Parsons, who organized his first solo exhibition at her Wakefield Gallery and Bookstore in 1943, when the artist was just twenty-one. Other commercial and critical success followed, and from 1943 to 1947, Stamos received three one-man shows and participated in several important group exhibitions, including the Whitney Museum’s annual and the important early show of Abstract Expressionist painting, “The Ideographic Picture,” which was curated by Barnett Newman at Betty Parsons Gallery. Stamos established lasting friendships with both Newman and Rothko, who shared with the younger artist an interest in primitive and mythological imagery.

A lover of travel, in 1947 Stamos traveled throughout the United States, visiting New Mexico, California, and the Northwest.  In 1948 he sailed for Europe, visiting France, Italy, and Greece. In Paris he met many of the renowned modernists including Picasso, Brancusi and Giacometti. Always sensitive to the particularities of light, mood, and color of specific locales, Stamos's paintings are indexes of his responses to different places.  Later in his career, he devoted several series of paintings to sites including Jerusalem, Delphi, and Lefkada, an island in the Ionian Sea.

Throughout his career, Stamos was also a dedicated teacher and held numerous positions. He taught at Hartley Settlement House for four years in the early 1950s, and at the progressive Black Mountain College, where he met Clement Greenberg and had Kenneth Noland as one of his students.  In 1951, Stamos moved to East Marion, New York, where he developed an expressive color-field technique. In 1955, he began teaching at the Art Students League in New York, a position he would hold for twenty-two years.  His prolific painting career continued in the 1990’s, when ACA Galleries, New York and the Municipal Art Gallery in Thessaloniki, Greece honored him with retrospective exhibitions. After a prolonged illness, Stamos died on February 2, 1997.

Stamos’s art appears in countless private and public collections in the United States and internationally, among them The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; National Picture Gallery, Athens, Greece; San Francisco Art Institute Galleries; Tel Aviv Museum, Israel; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; The Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; The Chrysler Art Museum, Norfolk, Virginia; The Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; and Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung, Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich, Germany.


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