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 Gertrude Abercrombie  (1909 - 1977)

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Lived/Active: Illinois / Germany      Known for: surreal imagery, gloves, grapes, hats, block printing

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Ad Code: 3
Gertrude Abercrombie
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Portraits of Chicago Artists by Chicago Artists, Increase Robinson's Studio Gallery, Chicago, 1932
Grant Park Outdoor Art Fair, 1933
Annual Exhibitions, Chicago No-Jury Society of Artists, Chicago, 1934, 36, 37.
Annual Exhibitions, Chicago Society of Artists, 1934-37.
Salon des Refuses, Davis Store Galleries, Chicago, 1935
International Water Color Exhibition, AIC, 1940
Traveling Exhibition of the Chicago Society of Artists , 1935-36
Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago and Vicinity Artists, AIC, 1935-1944, 1946-1951, 53, 55, 60, 67
Society for Contemporary American Art, AIC, 1945
Solo, Associated American Artists Gallery, NYC, 1946
Hyde Park Art Fair, Chicago, 1947-ca 1972.
Solo, Chicago Public Library, Art Room,1948.
Contemporary American Painting, 1948-51, U of Illinois, Urbana, 1951.
Solo, various galleries in Chicago, Milwaukee, Aurora, Winnetka (IL), 1952-64.
Solo, Retrospective Exhibition, Hyde Park Art Century, Chicago, 1977.
Gertrude Abercrombie and Friends, Illinois State Museum, Springfield (IL), 1983
Gertrude Abercrombie, State of Illinois Art Gallery (Chicago) and Illinois State Museum (Springfield), 1991
The New Woman in Chicago, 1910-1945: Paintings from Illinois Collections, Rockford (IL) College, Illinois
Art Gallery (Chicago), Illinois State Museum (Lockport), 1993

Joseph Eisendrath Prize, Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago and Vicinity Artists, AIC, 1936
Mr. & Mrs. Frank H. Armstrong Prize, Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago and Vicinity Artists, AIC, 1938.
William and Bertha Clusmann Prize, AIC, 1946

Chicago Society of Artists, ca 1930s, '40s
Chicago No-Jury Society of Artists, c1930s.

Burbank School, Chicago.
Millikin University, Decatur, IL
Private Collection of Powell and Barbara Bridges Collection, Wilmette, IL
Western Ilinois University Art Gallery, Macomb, IL
Illinois State University Gallery, Normal, IL
Lakeview Museum, Peoria, IL.
Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian, Washington DC
U of Illinois (BA, romance languages), Urbana, 1929.
SAIC, 1929
American Academy of Art, Chicago, 1929

Related To/Associated With:
Friend of Thornton Wilder
Friend of Dizzy Gillespie
Friend of Billie Holliday
Friend of artist Karl Priebe

Other Occupations:
WPA/Federal Art Project, 1934-40
Commercial artist, Mesirow department store, Chicago, 1931

Falk, Peter Hastings. Who Was Who in American Art 1898 to 1947. Madison, CN: Soundview Press, 1985.
Gertrude Abercrombie.
Greenhouse, Wendy. Chicago Painting, 1895-1945: The Bridges Collection. Springfield: Illinois State Museum, 1999.
Illinois State Museum. Gertrude Abercrombie and Friends,/em>. Springfield: Illinois State Museum, 1983.
Illinois State Museum. The Emergence of Modernism in Illinois 1914-1940. Springfield: Illinois State Museum, 1976.
Smith, Kent and Susan Weininger. Gertrude Abercrombie: an exhibition. Springfield: Illinois State Museum, 1991.
Weininger, Susan. "Gertrude Abercrombie." Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary. Ed. Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.
Yochim, Louise Dunn. Role and Impact: The Chicago Society of Artists. Chicago: The Society, 1979.

Illinois Women's Artists Project

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Gertrude Abercrombie, a Chicago painter also deeply involved in jazz music, has worked with highly personal surreal images.  She was a prominent surrealist in the 1930s through the 1950s in Chicago.  She argued that technique was not as important as ideas and developed a style emulating naive artists.

The tone of her paintings is foreboding and references the real and the imaginary with many of them intended as self portraits.  For many years she was associated with a group of artists who focused on depictions of their fantasies.

Her family, members of the Christian Science Church, was wealthy, lived on the North Shore of Lake Michigan, and was highly respectable---something she rebelled against.  She first married a successful lawyer and then divorced him and married a jazz musician, Frank Sandiford, at a ceremony where Dizzy Gillespie provided the music.

For many years, Saturday night sessions at her home in Hyde Park attracted entertainers such as Gillespie, Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughn and writers including Thornton Wilder.  She also spent much time communicating with the Wisconsin Surrealist artists led by Marshall Glasier, and was part of much visiting back and forth of these artists between Madison and Chicago.

She was primarily a self-taught artist but studied commercial art briefly at the University of Illinois.  In the 1930s, she worked on the Federal Art Project.

Some of her paintings were included in the Madison Art Center exhibit "Surreal Wisconsin" in the summer of 2000.

Charlotte Rubinstein, American Women Artists

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