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Harold Shapinsky

 (1925 - 2004)
Harold Shapinsky was active/lived in New York, District Of Columbia.  Harold Shapinsky is known for abstract expressionist painter.

Harold Shapinsky

Biography from Franklin Riehlman Fine Art

Biography photo for Harold Shapinsky
American abstract-expressionist painter Harold Shapinsky was born in Brooklyn in 1925. Passionate and determined, he dropped out of school in his mid-teens and moved to a cold-water flat in Manhattan to paint. In 1948 he was invited to join the Subjects of the Artist, an informal studio school associated with Robert Motherwell, William Baziotes, Mark Rothko and other abstract expressionist painters. In 1950 Motherwell chose him for inclusion in the Kootz Gallery exhibition ?Fifteen Unknowns (selected by the artists of the Kootz Gallery)?.

That same year Shapinsky was drafted into the army. After his two-year tour of duty, the private and moody painter distanced himself from the New York art scene. Although he painted constantly, he exhibited rarely, and was often forced to earn a living selling rare books or helping his wife Kate with her dance workshops. The size of his paintings from the fifties, sixties, and seventies, which rarely exceed 24 x 30 inches, reflect the constraints of living on the edge of poverty in a tiny three-room walk-up with a wife and child. They are, nevertheless, characterized by an energy and intensity that transcends their intimate scale.

In 1985 Shapinsky?'s work came to the attention of Ronald Alley, then Keeper of the Modern Collection at the Tate Museum. Alley arranged for an exhibition at the Mayor Gallery in London, from which all twenty-two paintings were sold, including one that was acquired by the Tate. Writing about the exhibition for the "London Observer", Salmon Rushdie said, "?It is hard to believe that a painter who is now attracting lavish praise from every corner of the European art establishment could have languished so long in Manhattan, the undisputed capital of the art world.? The ?discovery? of an unknown abstract expressionist by a professor from Bangalore, India, became the stuff of legend and the subject of a feature length article in the New Yorker by Lawrence Weschler."

In 1987 Helander Gallery, Palm Beach, gave the artist his first solo exhibition in the United States. The show was another financial and critical success. Shapinsky?s work merited national reviews both in the art monthlies and the popular press, and The National Gallery of Art in Washington acquired a painting.

In 1989 Jeffrey Wechsler included several examples of Shapinsky'?s work in the exhibition, "Abstract Expressionism: Other Dimensions" at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Helander Gallery gave Shapinsky his first one-man exhibition in New York in 1990, and in 1992 the National Arts Club, New York, mounted a 45-year retrospective.

Shapinsky responded to the kudos and new-found financial freedom by painting more intensely than ever in the eighties and into the nineties, with no diminution of quality or passion.

He died of Alzheimer?s disease in 2004.

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About  Harold Shapinsky

Born:  1925 - Brooklyn, New York
Died:   2004 - Washington District Of Columbia
Known for:  abstract expressionist painter