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 Alfred John Rogoway  (1899 - 1990)

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/California/Arizona/Oregon      Known for: Abstract Expressionist painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Alfred Rogoway (1899-1990)

"Using scenes from his own inner consciousness, Alfred Rogoway created a world of sensitively distorted figures.  His beings are fairy tale creatures and from myths that partake of all the activities of man in a mood which might be termed eternal.  A true somnambulist who dreams in paint, finding expression for all the subtleties of his nature on canvasses.  He prays, dances, loves and plays in rich vibrant colors and delicate, delineated drawing.  Rogoway always wished to create something truly beautiful so that the world would have gained through his expressions of life." (quoted from the essay by Kaya Morgan, Lanning Gallery)

Rogoway lived and painted all over the world and made his home in Mijas, Spain for over two decades.

He was born in Portland, Oregon, the youngest of three children of a playwright father and artist mother.  Alfred was initially drawn to music where for five years he played trombone and led a five piece jazz band.

During the first World War, Rogoway served as a U.S. Navy, sub-chaser until his ship was torpedoed.  As one of the few survivors rescued, he was sent home only to find that both his brother and sister had met their untimely deaths.

He went on to earn a Masters of Fine Arts degree and Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley.  Later, he was accepted to study under Lyonel Feininger and Fernand Leger at Mills College which led to an introduction and further studies with Jose Orozco at the University of Mexico.  For three consecutive years, Rogoway's paintings were selected by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's open competition.

In the 1940s, Rogoway settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he met his future wife.  The family moved to Big Sur, California where Alfred met author Henry Miller, who remained a close friend and encouraging supporter for decades.  But not long after the birth of their daughter, Esther, in 1947, with baby in arms, the Rogoway family boarded a freighter bound for France.  It was there that Alfred met and developed a close bond with Pablo Picasso, as they frequently exchanged thoughts and ideas.

Again, the family moved — this time to Ajijic, Mexico where Rogoway finally found himself able to devote full time to his art.

Moving to New York in 1955, Rogoway met success, with his work selling well through galleries as well as being exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art along with Braque, Miro, Picasso and other famous artists of the day.

The family finally purchased a large home in Sag Harbor, Long Island, but in 1958 the Rogoways decided to make the Mediterranean their new home, high on a mountain top in Mijas, Spain.  They entertained in a grand manner with such prestigious guests as the Spanish Minister of Culture, Ingrid Bergman, Robert Shaw and Mary Ure, all of whom purchased his work.  Rogoway even had showing at the Grosvenor Gallery in London, becoming a Lifetime Associate, where his work still remains in their permanent collection.

The Rogoway's remained abroad until in 1980 when Marjorie Rogoway was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.  She passed away in 1983, and Alfred Rogoway came home to live with his daughter, Ester, and grandchildren, who had now settled in Tuscon, Arizona.  During his final years, Alfred quietly painted in a small studio behind the family house until his death in 1990, while painting.

His work is in the permanent collections of the Grosvenor Gallery in London, the Copenhagen National Museum, the American Gallery in Los Angeles, the Universities of Illinois, Arizona, New Mexico and in private collections throughout the world.

Sources include:
Lanning Gallery

These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:
Born in Portland, OR on April 4, 1899. Rogoway was a resident of Berkeley in the late 1930s. He died in Tucson, AZ on Aug. 11, 1990. Exh: SFAA, 1939-41; Oakland Art Gallery, 1939.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Social Security Death Index (1940-2002).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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