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 Alfred Russell  (1920 - 2007)

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Lived/Active: New York/Missouri / France      Known for: mod genre-nude, non objective, and semi-realist painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following obituary from The New York Times, October 13, 2007, is submitted by Francine Proulx.

"Alfred Russell, Painter With a Classical Style, Dies at 87"
By Roberta Smith

Alfred Russell, a New York School painter who abandoned abstraction for a classicizing, Surrealistic figurative style, died in New York City on Sept. 22.  He was 87 and lived in Manhattan.

The cause was complications of cancer, said his wife, Joan Russell.

During the late 1940s and early ’50s, Mr. Russell was active in abstract circles in New York and Paris.  His finely structured images, in which small planes seemed to splinter around a central vortex, combined aspects of the abstract styles of both cities.  In New York he had solo shows at the Peridot Gallery and appeared in seven painting annuals at the Whitney Museum of American Art and in early Abstract Expressionist group shows at the Sidney Janis Gallery and the Kootz Gallery.

In the early 1950s, Mr. Russell became drawn to classical art as he grew disenchanted with the Abstract Expressionist scene.  Although he never abandoned abstraction entirely, he more frequently converted his swirling automatist shapes into figures: tumbling, elegantly drawn nudes not unlike those of Pavel Tchelitchew.  Always outspoken, he summed up his position in a catalog statement: “Now is the time to paint the wrong picture in the wrong century and the wrong place, paint Diana of Ephesus.”

Born in 1920, Mr. Russell studied at the Art Students League and earned a master’s degree in art history from Columbia.  He also studied with Stanley William Hayter’s print studio, Atelier 17, in both New York and Paris.

Mr. Russell’s first wife, Andrée Descharnes, died in 1976.  In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughter from his first marriage, Elsie Harrington of Brooklyn.

Mr. Russell taught for nearly 30 years at Brooklyn College.  His last New York show was at the Tatischeff Gallery in 1979.  He is represented in the collections of the Whitney Museum, the Brooklyn Museum and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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