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 Alan Wood-Thomas  (1920 - 1976)

About: Alan Wood-Thomas
 

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Lived/Active: New York/Connecticut / France      Known for: nudes and portrait painting, etchings, drawings, engravings

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Ad Code: 4
Alan  Wood-Thomas
"Silvermine series: lumiere electrique", oil on canvas, 1959, 74 x 52 inches.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
"In any art, we all deal with the same basic things. An emotional or artistic expression occurs only when an artist presents us with a vision that is strictly his own. When he does, he opens new doors for us to places we didn’t suspect existed."

Alan Wood-Thomas

It is difficult to lump the paintings of Alan Wood-Thomas into any one school or category, for he painted in many styles, including impressionism, surrealism, cubism, realism, and abstraction. His artwork is an emotional portrayal of his own personal feelings of the seasons, humanity, and nature. His artwork shows poetic realism, from his graceful interpretation of the nude female to his dramatic depiction of his emotional turmoil during WWII. Alan once said, "As I am aware of the ugliness and misery, so I am aware of the beauty that can be found in this world. I try to express my love for people, children and nature."

Alan was born in Paris on Jan. 16, 1920 into a family of artists. He lived a fulfilling life until his death in 1976 in Connecticut, where he died of Lou Gerhig's disease. His father, Cyrus W. Thomas, was an architect studying at the Beaux Arts School. His mother, Victoria Marie Ange Dauriac, was a French sculptress, who at the age of sixteen, was the youngest person ever to have been allowed into the Beaux Arts School. Living in Paris Alan spent most of his free time mountain climbing. He joined the French Boy Scouts and through time became an Eagle Scout, as well as first in his class. As a teenager he studied architecture with his father and sculpting with his mother. Much of his canvas work has a sculpting feel to it, where the images actually protrude from the piece.

Alan and his family later moved to America, where Alan attended college to become an architect like his father. He was admitted to start his third year of school at Princeton but instead took the big plunge and moved to New York City where he met his wife Annabelle who was modeling at an art school. To make money he worked running the elevators at Radio City Music Hall. Each night he would draw his wife Annabelle at their Greenwich Village home for hours. He was determined not to consider himself an artist until he had mastered the human form.

When WWII began Alan joined the 603d division, which was mainly comprised of art minded young men. The camouflage division as they called it, was an important factor in winning the war against the Nazi’s, and in a book entitled Secret Soldiers, written by Philip Gerard, many of Alan's accomplishments during the war can be found.

Alan was a master artist but a poor businessman. After the war in 1972, he tried walking the streets of Paris to sell his artwork to galleries for a short time. Finding rejection hard he went back to America and continued to do what he loved most, drawing, etching, and painting.

He colored old engravings with watercolors to make a mere $5 dollars an hour. Occasionally a friend would come by his house in Connecticut, go out to the barn where he created his artwork, and a sale would be made. Every so often their would be a show in New York City, and someone famous would buy one of his paintings.

In 1968 Alan was commissioned by the Justice Department to do the portrait of Nicholas deB Katzenbach, former Under Secretary of State to President Kennedy, and former Attorney General. Alan knew Katzenbach well, and the portrait was the first Avant-Guard portrait done of an American government official. This painting hangs on the fifth floor of the Justice Department to this very day.

Most of Alan's masterpieces were done on paper or canvas. He did a total of seven hundred paintings on thick weighted paper and sixty on canvas. Twenty five of his canvas pieces are either part of a gallery collection or a private collection. Thirty Five of these are still held by his family.

During his career as an artist, Alan Wood-Thomas did over fifteen hundred pen and ink drawings. The majority of his work was done of the nude female. Other work, however, expressed his deep feelings relating to WWII and the atrocities he witnessed. Of interest is that he often described to his family that he left his body and watched himself go to the canvas and paint. Other times he watched his hand create the drawing.You can see the influence of Picasso and Matisse in his work. He felt very close to Picasso and once had lunch with him in Paris during WWII.

Alan Wood-Thomas did over 200 etchings before his death in 1976. Fourteen of these were a series entitled ''The Death of Picasso'.

When Alan was 55 he was diagnosed with Lou Gerhig's disease and was told he had a year to live. He was just about to start his own art school in Connecticut. His death was very hard on his family. His family knew him as 'The King', and it has been for purposes of healing that they have had difficulty marketing his work to the public

Source:
http://www.woodthomas.com/


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