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 Helen Torr  (1886 - 1967)

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About: Helen Torr
 

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: modernist-leaning landscape, still life, nature

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Helen Torr
from Auction House Records.
Melodrama (Thunderstrom)
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Much influenced by the modernist painting of Arthur Dove, Helen Torr became a painter of abstract shapes suggesting landscape, still life, and nature. In 1913, she married cartoonist Clive Weed. She met Dove in 1919, and his influence on her artwork as well as her personal life began. In 1932, she married Dove but set aside her career five years later to take care of him when he suffered a heart attack. Ironically the man who had inspired her signature work was responsible for its curtailment.

Torr was born in Roxbury, Pennsylvania. In 1906, when she was age 20, she won a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where she was a student of William Merritt Chase. After her marriage to Dove, she had close friendships with many of his modernist painter and photographer associates including Marsden Hartley, Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand. She was part of the movement to develop a uniquely American brand of contemporary painting that was based on inspiration derived from nature. Torr's style incorporated botanical shapes and rich, deep and often flat colors with luminous highlights. It was said that her work could be "read as landscapes." (Kennedy 160).

Torr's paintings tended to be small and did not convey the dramatic appearance of the floral work by her peer Georgia O'Keeffe, whose career overshadowed that of Torr. These women knew each other well and shared the goal of depicting natural elements infused with their personal feelings. O'Keeffe arranged for Torr's work to be exhibited in 1927 at the Opportunity Gallery with an exhibition of paintings by women artists. However, Torr did not promote herself and rarely exhibited during her lifetime. The first solo exhibition of her work was in 1972, five years after she had died.

Sources include:
Kennedy and Bourguignon, "An American Point of View: The Daniel J Terra Collection"
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"

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