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 Peter Gee  (1932 - 2005)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/New York      Known for: designer, graphic artist, painter, educator

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
Captain Jack's Wharf
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter, designer and restorer of historic buildings, Peter Gee was born in Leicestershire, England and showed much early art talent.  By age 18, he was a graphic designer and typographer in the English army, and later was a student at the Central St. Martin's School of Art in London.  He also studied with Victor Pismire, Harry Hebron and Sir Herbert Read, and during the 1950s was in Paris and London with exhibitions of his work. 

The following is excerpted from his obituary in the Provincetown Banner, Provincetown, Massachusetts, March 9, 2006:

Mr. Gee arrived in the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day in 1962 aboard the Queen Elizabeth II and almost immediately enjoyed a prominent place in the Pop Art era designing posters and silk screen prints of coloristic intensity and vigor for such clients as Chase Manhattan Bank, Merrill Lynch, Pace Graphics and the Museum of Modern Art.  His posters for the Vera List Poster Foundation included the first-of-a-kind poster for the city's parks department.  In the fashion world, he designed packaging and posters for “Paraphernalia,” where he met and became a long-time friend of Betsy Johnson.  His posters and prints of this period were exhibited next to those of Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana and others at the "Word and Image" show at the Museum of Modern Art, and his dexterity and the visual impact of his work garnered international attention many times on the cover of Time Magazine.

By 1970, he had established a color workshop and gallery called ApoGee at 504 LaGuardia Place, New York City.  Gee's primary painting influence was Matisse, but his transmutations of Matisse's cut-out series of intense color were distinctly his own coloristic visions of sharp edge and flat areas that he developed into large color panels exhibited for his first one-man show at Alan Stone Gallery.  He was both skilled and exceptionally innovative in the area of applied art, i.e. posters, brochures, etc., tending to reinforce the idea of the original Bauhaus dictum that the whole man-made environment was an object of design.  Peter Gee's work was soon in demand in color workshops in New York City at the School of Visual Arts, at the Rhode Island School of Design and at the Harvard School of Architecture in Cambridge where he ran summer workshops.

In addition to Gee's career as a graphic artist and design consultant, he was also a designer and developer who was active in converting and preserving many of the old loft buildings in Soho and Tribeca, including the Mercantile Exchange Building at the corner of Hudson and Harrison and the Puck Building at Lafayette and Houston.  The Puck Building achieved historic landmark status in 1983.  The restoration revived the use of the property for the graphic arts and related disciplines and was the first commercial condominium of its kind in the city.  Gee's efforts in this major process of architectural and cultural renewal are said to be the transforming element of what was once called "Hell's Hundred Acres." Gee received a letter of commendation from Mayor Edward Koch.

Mr. Gee and his wife, Olga Opsahl-Gee, taught color theory at the Hawthorne studio barn in Provincetown, where the famous painter Charles Hawthorne conducted his demonstrations and painting classes for hundreds of students from 1899 to his death in 1930.  Following Hawthorne, the abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann conducted classes there.  Given Mr. Gee's lifelong preoccupation with color, the preservation of Hawthorne’s barn, and continuing its tradition, was a perfect historical coordinate.

Peter Gee, age 73, died on Dec. 1, 2005 at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston.

His work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, Japan; the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; the Design Museum in Zurich, Switzerland; the Library of Congress and the Hirshhorn Museum, Smithsonian and the National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.



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