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 James Penney  (1910 - 1982)

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Lived/Active: New York/Kansas/Missouri      Known for: modernist genre, landscape, botanics easel and mural painting

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Ad Code: 3
James Penney
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, James Penney attended the University of Kansas where he studied art and graduated in 1931. Then he moved to New York City where he studied at the Art Students League with George Grosz and John Sloan and others. During the days of the Federal Arts Project in the 1930s, he had numerous mural commissions, and in the 1940s he became Vice-President of the Art Students League.

By the end of World War II, he had become seriously committed to teaching, and in 1945, was appointed Instructor of Art at Bennington College in Millbrook, New York. Subsequently he taught at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute in Utica, New York, Vassar College, and for more than twenty years, was a Professor of Art at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.

He was the subject of two major retrospectives, 1955 and 1977, at Munson-Williams Proctor Institute in Utica, New York.

His paintings combined abstraction and realism and addressed scenes of unpretentious urban environment. He used rich, warm colors to convey a sense of drama.

Source: Clipping from "American Art Notes," Autumn 1988
Exhibition Record (Museums, Institutions and Awards):
Midwestern Artists? Exhibition, 1930; Midwestern Artists? Exhibition, 1931; Midwestern Artists? Exhibition, 1932.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born St Joseph, MO, Sept. 6, 1910; died Clinton, NY, 1982. Painter. Printmaker. Teacher. Graduated in 1931 from the University of Kansas, Lawrence where he studied with Karl Mattern, Albert Bloch and Raymond Eastwood. Moved to New York where he attended the Art Students League as a pupil of Charles Locke, John Sloan and George Grosz. Worked on numerous mural projects under the Federal Arts Project in the 1930s. Was an instructor at Hunter College, NY in 1941-42 and by the end of World War II, he had become seriously committed to teaching. He taught at Bennington College, VT in 1946-47, at Hamilton College, NY from 1948-55, was an instructor Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, NY from 1948-55, served as a visiting- artist at Kansas State University, Manhattan, in 1955, as Assistant Professor at Vassar College 1955-56 and again at Hamilton College in1956 where he stayed for many years.
Bronze medal, Midwestern Artists? Exhibition, 1931.

Murals: Flushing High School, Long Island, NY; Springfield Museum of Art; Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute; University of Nebraska; Beach Museum; Nelson-Atkins Museum; Phillips Academy; Wichita Art Museum; Ft. Worth Art Center; Des Moines Art Center; Columbus Museum of Art; Spencer Museum of Art.

Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
Newlin, Gertrude Dix (Development of Art in Kansas. Typed Manuscript, 1951); Who?s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1936- v.1=1936-37 v.3= 1941-42 v.2=1938-39 v.4=1940-47. 3,4,6,7; Sain, Lydia. Kansas Artists, compiled by Lydia Sain from 1932 to 1948. Typed Manuscript, 1948.; Midwestern Artists? Exhibition (Kansas City: Kansas City Art Institute, 1920-1942 Mines, Cynthia. For the Sake of Art: The Story of an Art Movement in Kansas. s.l. Mines, 1979.) 1930-32; AskArt,, accessed Dec. 22, 2005; Prior, Harris K. A Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings by James Penney. (Utica, NY: Art Gallery, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, 1955).
This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

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