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 Myron Stedman Stout  (1908 - 1987)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts      Known for: abstract painting-simple ovoid images

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Myron Stedman Stout
from Auction House Records.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Minimalist painter, Myron Stout is best known for his "black and white" period.
He has also done landscapes, abstracts, and drawings in pencil. Stout who died in 1987 was the subject of a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1980.

Myron Stout spent much of his career in Provincetown, Massachusetts. His first visit was during the summer of 1938, as he was just finishing his graduate work. He was brought to Provincetown by his painting teacher from Columbia Teacher's College, Charles Martin, who held a class there.

In 1946, after the war, Stout had leave from his teaching job in Hawaii, and came back to Columbia, to consider further graduate work toward a doctorate. Stout returned to Provincetown in the fall and the summer and then quit teaching in 1949. He was attending the Hans Hofmann school through those summers on the GI Bill. The summer of 1949 he went to Europe but returned to Hofmann's class for most of the winter.

During this time Stout was working entirely abstract, and continued to do so, until about 1952, '53, '54. Leaving the city of New York and being close to nature in Provincetown led him to draw the surrounding landscape. Stout remembered, "If I showed Hans (Hofmann) a landscape drawing, he'd say, "Oh, you stay over nature." I thought this a very good way to put it. In other words, you control the nature of what you need for what you are putting on the paper."

Stout was creating multi-colored paintings inspired by Greek mythology, at the time he was re-reading the Greek dramas. He had always had a strong interest in Greek mythology as the first book he learned to read, before he went to school, was a book of Greek myths. The shapes began to take on meaning in terms of mythology for him.

Since the late 1940s early '50s, Stout had been working with sharp black and white charcoal drawings. During the winters of 1951 or '52, he began to get into the black and white paintings, and did a couple. He wasn't satisfied with these and didn't return to them until the summer of 1954, living at Days Lumberyard, in studio number 6. He had been painting in various colors and did a very atypical painting, which was in three or four colors, mostly red and black and green. Then he painted a small black and white painting. He moved his studio up to 11 Brewster and painted throughout the winter and through the next fall. That winter is when the black and white paintings came. "They came so fast I couldn't paint them. I got enough started to last me for three or four years."

"I began to reduce number of colors, and go back to larger forms. It was at that time . . . I was drawing a great deal, outdoors, out in the dunes, out in the woods. Doing nature scenes to a great extent. The curvilinear quality of natural forms came back in. The question was to make them work for me in the way the more geometric shapes had. It finally came out, late that summer of '54, and through the winter of '55, the summer of '55."

"Without color. The first one was a white shape in a black field. I don't think I did more than three paintings that were a black shape in a white field. All the rest, I think, had been white in black. I continued going out and drawing in nature."

"I began to work with a reduced number of colors, and began to simplify shapes in a way I'd been doing with the black and white charcoal drawings, and then carried into the graphites. That was a fairly smooth transition. At first I began to use it entirely in black and white. Then I began to use gray tones, and actually had done one charcoal in gray and white. It seems to me Brown Baker has that now, can't remember. The graphites, instead of a black shape in a white field or vice versa, a third shape, usually integral with the other shape, would be gray. So there would be white and gray and black."

Archives of American Art, Oral History Interview with Myron Stout in Provincetown, Mass. Interviewer: Robert Brown, March 26, 1984-October 3, 1984

Biography from ACME Fine Art:
Myron Stout

Columbia University
Hans Hoffman School

Selected Exhibitions:
Whitney Museum of American Art, 1958
Museum of Modern Art, 1959
The Jewish Museum, 1963
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1964-65
Corcoran Biennial, 1969

Selected Collections:
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

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