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 Irving Shapiro  (1927 - 1994)

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Lived/Active: Illinois      Known for: street genre, landscape and figure watercolor painting, teaching

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Ad Code: 4
Irving Shapiro
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Irving Shapiro (1927-1994)
Known for: watercolor landscape and other subjects, teaching, and writing.
Lived/worked: Illinois

Irving Shapiro was born in Chicago on March 28, 1927. He studied painting at the Chicago Art Institute and the American Academy of Art in Chicago. He taught art at the American Academy of Art from 1945 until 1994 and served for many years as its Director and President. The American Academy of Art Library has been named after Irving Shapiro.

His watercolors have been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe and, most recently, in China. His works hang in galleries, in hundreds of corporate offices, in private collections, as well as the Illinois State Museum collection.

In 1992, Irving Shapiro was given the Artist's Achievement Award in Watercolor by the American Artist Magazine. He has won the High Winds Medal and the Mary Litt Medal at juried shows of the American Watercolor Society and was one of the youngest artists ever admitted to signature membership in that organization. Shapiro's work received many awards that serve today as a tribute to his creativity and his mastery of the craft.

In addition to teaching and to his administrative responsibilities at the academy, he has lectured in the U.S., Italy, France and Switzerland. Six of his demonstrations in watercolor painting have been videotaped and distributed widely.

His book, How to Make a Painting: Planning, Procedures and Techniques in Watercolor, has been translated into eight languages.

He served on the boards of a number of organizations, including the American Watercolor Society, the Midwest Watercolor Society (now the Transparent Watercolor Society of America) and the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago.

Irving Shapiro went out into nature to make sketches, color samples, and black-and-white photographs for his watercolors. Then, back in his studio, he would begin his large paintings. He believed that only the fewest of pencil lines should be used to give guidelines to the composition, which he designed in his head. First, he applied the main color washes to define the large areas of the painting. He preferred risking mistakes while being bold and fresh with the paint, rather than risking getting bogged down in static details.

"He was a very dignified gentleman," his wife, Syril, said. "He was an educator all his life and a man with the soul of an artist."

Irving Shapiro died at age 67, on June 14, 1994 at the Whitehall North Convalescent Home in Deerfield, Illinois.

Written and submitted by Scott Wilder, Art Collector and Researcher from Olathe, Kansas

Kenan Heise, Chicago Tribune Staff Writer, June 16, 1994.
Irving Shapiro, "Irving Shapiro Says Watercolor Has Gender" American Artist, April, 1959.
Whistle Pik Galleries, 425 E. Main Street, Fredericksburg, Tx.

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