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Bird of Prey, wood engraving image size 8" x 10" pencil signed lower right and initialed in the block, issued in portfolio form by the Woodcut society New York, 1948
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
|Biography from National Gallery of Art, Washington DC:|
|Roderick Fletcher Mead was born 25 June 1900 in South Orange, New
Jersey. He attended the Newark Academy where he received art
lessons along with other academic subjects. His formal
training began at Yale University, where he received his degree in fine
arts in 1925. Mead then moved to New York to study at the Art
Students League. His principal teacher was the noted painter
George Luks, with whom he later studied privately. From 1927-29,
he attended the Grand Central School of Art, where he studied the
watercolor technique from George Pearse Ennis, then considered the
leading watercolor teacher in New York.|
In 1931, Mead moved to the Spanish island of Majorca. In 1934, he
moved his studio to Paris, where he married Jarvis Kerr (of Paris and
New York) whom he had met on Majorca. Mead soon began studying
printmaking under the tutelage of Stanley William Hayter at the
experimental Atelier 17. The influence of Hayter and the other
artists who worked at Atelier 17 on Mead and his style cannot be
underestimated. Other artists working at the Atelier during that
period included Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Max
Ernst, Yves Tanguy, Jean Hélion, and Wassily Kandisky. He began
to experiment with abstraction and surrealism at this time. To
benefit victims of the Spanish Civil War, Hayter asked Mead, Miró,
Kandinsky and others to contribute a print to a portfolio illustrating
the poem Fraternité by Stephen Spender (March 1939).
The Meads returned to the United States in advance of World War II,
living first on Long Island, New York, Maine, and later in Sarasota,
Florida. The family was settled in Carlsbad, the home of Jarvis'
father by 1941. During the war and as part of the war effort,
Mead was employed in the drafting office of the Potash Company of
America (1942-44). He created the company emblem and designed
machines for ore refining. Mead set up a studio in Carlsbad where
he also taught classes in painting.
After the war, Mead was able to devote himself to the creation of art
full time. He exhibited regularly in the Southwest, New York, and
in California. Following the sudden death of his son in
1951, Mead became despondent and worked very little. By 1953 he resumed
painting and printmaking but rarely exhibited his work outside on New
Mexico. The Meads resumed their travels and spent the summers in
Europe, returning to Carlsbad for the beginning of the school year.
In the late 1950s, Mead began his best known print series, The Zodiac.
The prints in this series fused science and myth, Surrealism and
nature. The constellations are shown on the picture plane with
the symbols they represent depicted in either biomorphically abstracted
forms or with scientific precision. The period from the mid 1950s
into the late 1960s was one of great activity as Mead created a large
number of prints and large scale canvases. In 1968 Mead created
nine wood engravings to illustrate Brandings, a collection of poems by Katherine Arnstein Heinemann (Cummington Press).
Roderick Mead survived a bout with cancer in the late 1960s and
returned to work, maintaining a regular working schedule. A
second cancer diagnosis in 1970 proved to be more serious, although
Mead continued to create art until days before his death on May 5, 1971.
Submitted March 2006 by Gregory P. J. Most, Chief, Library Image Collections, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
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