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 Nicholas P. Brigante  (1895 - 1989)

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Lived/Active: California / Italy      Known for: modernist-leaning landscape and abstract painting

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
The Prohibition Era, 1932
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A California modernist focused on the subconscious and intuition, Nicholas Brigante is often confused with late 19th-century New Bedford painter, Nicholas Briganti.

Brigante was born in Padula in southern Italy, and from 1897, lived in Los Angeles where he first worked as a sign painter and studied landscape painting with Hanson Puthuff, Rex Slinkard, and Val Costello. After serving in the Army during World War I, he studied with Stanton McDonald- Wright with whom he shared an interest in Oriental philosophy.

His first exhibition was at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1921. From 1923 to 1924, he studied in New York City and had a show at the Brooklyn Museum. Returning to Los Angeles, he began a series of watercolors and was a member of the California Watercolor Society. He did a watercolor series of the mountains of Southern California, but a foot injury in the 1930s confined him to studio work.

He did a series on pre-historic man, and in the 1940s and 1950s experimented with automatic drawing. By 1960, he was working with a wet technique of black India ink wash on heavy paper, and this experimentation was followed by several series: Burnt Mountain, the Tide Pool, and Space. After 1975, he created a series of acrylic panels.

He died on May 6, 1989 in Los Angeles.

Source: "Artists in California, 1786-1940", by Edan Hughes.

Biography from Tobey C. Moss Gallery:

Padua, Italy 1895 -1989 Los Angeles, California

Nicholas Brigante immigrated to the United States as a young boy, settling in Los Angeles with his family in 1897.   By 1911, Brigante was studying at the Los Angeles Art Students’ League and supporting himself as a sign painter, painting ‘Bull Durham’ signs on barns and fences! At the League he met his mentor, Rex Slinkard, an early harbinger of Modernism.

He left the League to serve in the Army during World War I and, when he returned to Los Angeles in 1919, he met Stanton Macdonald Wright. They shared an interest in Asian aesthetics and surrealism.   Brigante’s work was exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum, and he renewed his involvement with the Art Students’ League, without Slinkard, who had died in the flu epidemic of 1919.

In 1923, Brigante exhibited with the Group of Independent Artists, organized by Stanton Macdonald Wright. Immediately afterwards, Brigante and his new bride, Francesca, moved to New York where his watercolors were shown alongside those of Charles Sheeler, Yasuo Kunioshi, Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Demuth, John Marin, Reginald Marsh, Edward Hopper and Carl Sprinchorn at the Daniels Gallery and the New Gallery.

Upon returning to Los Angeles in 1925, Brigante and his wife built a home in the secluded Hollywood Hills. He focused his art upon the verdant Hollywood Hills, the dominating Arroyo Seco and the densely foliaged canyons. It was this environment that inspired him to record Man’s connection to nature throughout his life.

In the late 1930s, he commenced watercolor series that depicted workers in the Hills and local urban wilderness. These abstract and figurative works evoked the poetic abstractions of Asian aesthetics, Eastern philosophies and Synchromist color theories propounded by Stanton Macdonald Wright.

By the 1950s, ‘Tide Pools’ and ‘Winds and Mists’ exemplify series in Brigante’s abstract, intuitive work, explorations that pervaded his aesthetic expression until the end of his life. A master of watercolor, ink wash and sensuous line, Nick Brigante created a visual metaphor of experience found through nature that melded with his sensibilities.

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