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 Frank Stout  (1926 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/Vermont/Massachusetts / Italy      Known for: landscape, portrait, figure, group portrait painting, sculpture

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Frank Stout
An example of work by Frank Stout
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Frank Stout is one of the foremost—yet most elusive—realist artists working in America today. His distinguished career spans six decades, with works featured in galleries and museums in both the United States and abroad.  Permanent collections/commissions include The City Hall Fountain Plaza, Burlington, VT; The National Academy of Design, New York, NY; The Vermont State House, Montpelier, VT; Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS; The Sheldon Swope Art Gallery, Terre Haute, IN; The Springfield Museum, Springfield, MA; The U.S. Information Agency, Federal Building, Washington, DC & United States Embassies in Peru & Brazil; his private collectors include many celebrated international artists and connoisseurs.  He is a recipient of The National Academy of Design's Henry F. Ranger Award.

Born in 1926 on the North Shore of Boston, Frank Stout trained briefly on the GI Bill at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, his only formal education.  Stout moved to New York City in the late '50's, joining the avant-garde art scene around the Cedar Tavern and 10th Street galleries, while drafting for architects IM Pei.  He first showed at the Tanager Gallery, before joining Dorsky Gallery on Madison Avenue, enjoying regular solo exhibits there until the death of dealer Sam Dorsky.  He lived and worked in a downtown loft with his wife Chaewoon and young daughter Mira, where friends and neighbours included artists Wolf Kahn and Emily Mason, Alex Katz, Bill King and Lois Dodd, Robert Rauschenberg, Marisol, and Willem de Kooning.

With a move to Vermont in 1965, Stout's style evolved from a raw expressionism reminiscent of Kokoschka and Jack Levine to a more muscular and polished realism.  He showed again in New York at Landmark Gallery from the mid-'70s to early '80s.  His work achieved new fluency and resonance with his seminal series, 'The Convention Pictures', alongside a range of vibrant Americana subjects inspired by old  photographs and mass media; everyday images sketched from parking-lots, highways, and television screens.

Out of the mainstream, Stout's exile years in Vermont and Tuscany—from the mid-80's, when he bought a ruined property near Siena—were fertile ones for sculpting as well as painting and drawing; creating sensuous, playful figures rendered in a variety of media—alabaster, wood, bronze, terracotta, poured plaster, wire-mesh, and also 'found' materials: ice-cream sticks; plastic water-bottles; Styrofoam and plumbing insulation.  Unusually, Stout's sculpture, at its best, is considered equal to his painting; displaying a similar sensitivity of detail, mastery of line & volume, and trademark wit, manifest in the solo sculpture shows that followed in US museums & galleries from the '80's onwards.

While ambitious, Stout's highly reclusive temperament and purist leanings have set him apart from the media-driven self-consciousness of the late 20th / early 21st century American art scene.  Instead, he has explored an interior world of intense creativity and experimentation—continuing to this day.  Stout's versatility, his single-mindedness in pursuing offbeat obsessions, and his disregard for commercial & critical trends have resulted an oeuvre of almost confounding richness.  Yet his long refusal to "explain" his art and great reluctance to promote himself have undoubtedly cost him far wider recognition.

Frank Stout finds pathos, humor, and unexpected beauty in the humble and fleeting: from a tin of sardines to a transient America of trailers, fast-food joints, and derelict farms and mill-towns; his still-lives & landscapes capture the poignancy of the ignored and unsung. His often sardonic portraits—subjects as diverse as Louis Armstrong, the Pope, a trio of winos, Weight-Watchers, and Wall Street executives—are all evoked with equal freshness and bravura.

Yet Stout’s artistic reach extends beyond Americana to Classical and European subjects as well, as seen in both his sculpture and Italian paintings, and especially in his original ‘Artists & Models’ series; a flamboyant paean to the practice of art, celebrating Stout’s lifelong fascination with the human form.  His often astonishing group portraits demonstrate an authorial interest in a broader canvas—that of the Individual & Society. In framed vignettes & rites of passage—whether a Bostonian suffragettes’ meeting, or a Native American pow-wow; a shiny-faced suburban family-portrait, an anonymous graduation ceremony, or a corny vacation snap--Stout makes us feel part of a greater human family through the immediacy and universality of these images.  We are drawn into an awareness of passing time that intimates both mortality and a sense of historical continuity.

Formally, the group portraits evoke shades of Sargent and Whistler, and reference Old Masters such as Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Velasquez and Titian in palette and composition, but Stout’s sophisticated synthesis of bold, quasi-abstract paint-handling, humanist compassion, and postmodern inventiveness express a New World energy and a heightened vision all his own.

Over the decades, Frank Stout has produced a unique and timeless body of work.  With tender detail and monumental scope, his restless narrative images create a sweeping, eloquent album of life in the 20th century, and beyond.

Mara Williams
Independent Curator New York City / New England
Chief Curator Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, Vermont   

Born: Lynn, Massachusetts 1926
Education: Boston Museum School of Fine Arts '49-'50

Permanent Collections & Commissions:
United States Information Agency, Washington, DC
National Academy of Design: NYC
American Embassies: Peru & Brazil
Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS
Sheldon Swope Art Gallery, Terre Haute, IN
Springfield Museum, Springfield, MA
Vermont State House, Montpelier, VT
Vermont Council on the Arts
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Plaza Fountain (permanent sculpture installation)
City Hall, Burlington, VT
Queens Museum, NY
Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, Brattleboro, VT

Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2008 Retrospective Americana: Drury Gallery, Marlboro, VT
2007 'Lightness of Being'
Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, VT
2003 'Short Subjects': The Painting Center, New York, NY
2001 Retrospective: The Painting Center, New York, NY
2000 Retrospective: Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
1994 Hanover Art Gallery, Hanover, NH
1986 'Vermont Skies' Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
1984 MIT Gallery: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
1983 Fleming Museum, Burlington, VT
1983 Mercer Price Gallery, Putney, VT
1981 Landmark Gallery, NY, NY
1980 Landmark Gallery, NY, NY
1979 Landmark Gallery, NY, NY
1979 Park McCullough Mansion, Bennington, VT
1978 College Gallery, Drew University, Madison, NJ
1977 River Gallery, Brattleboro, VT
1974 Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, Brattleboro, VT
1972 Princeton Gallery, Princeton, NJ
1971 Windham College, Putney, VT
1970 University of Maine, Orono, ME
1969 West Corner Gallery, Grafton, VT
1966 Dorsky Gallery, Madison Ave. New York, NY
1965 Dorsky Gallery, Madison Ave. New York, NY
1964 Dorsky Gallery, Madison Ave. New York, NY
1963 Dorsky Gallery, Madison Ave. New York, NY
1962 Tanager Gallery, New York, NY
1961 Tanager Gallery, New York, NY
1960 Tanager Gallery, New York, NY
1956 Art Wood Gallery, Boston, MA
1954 Society of Architects, Lima, Peru

Selected Group Exhibitions:
The Painting Center, New York, NY
National Academy of Design, New York, NY
Springfield Museum, Springfield, MA
Brattleboro Museum & Arts Center, Brattleboro, VT
Hanover Art Gallery, Hanover, NH
Queens Museum, Flushing, NY
University of Vermont, Fleming Museum, Burlington, VT
Princeton Gallery, Princeton, NJ
Southern Vermont Art Center, Manchester, VT
Area Gallery, New York, NY
Roko Gallery, New York, NY
Tanager Gallery, New York, NY
Kornbluth Gallery, NJ

Awards:
Henry Ranger Award: National Academy of Design, NYC

Appointments:
Artist in Residence, Marlboro College, VT: 1966-1990
Chairman: Art Department, Marlboro College: 1982-85
Fine Art Year Abroad: 1981-2 Tuscany, ITALY
Visiting Artist: Vermont Studio School & Art Colony
Member: Vermont Council on the Arts
New England Foundation for the Arts

Set Designs:
'Arms & the Man': George Bernard Shaw.
'George Washington Crossing the Delaware': Kenneth Koch.
'Thieves Carnival': Jean Anouilh:
Marlboro Theatre Company, VT. '70s.

Selected Bibliography:
The Brooklyn Rail (TK: 2011)
The New York Times(2001)
The New York Observer (2001)
Harpers' (2001)
The Brattleboro Reformer (2009, 2000, & 1967-1990)
American Artist (1974)
Artnews (1960s)

Source:
www.frankstout.com with permission of the artist's agent/estate executor


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