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 Joyce Wahl Treiman  (1922 - 1991)

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Lived/Active: California/Illinois      Known for: post-real multi-figure, graphics

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Ad Code: 3
Joyce Wahl Treiman
from Auction House Records.
Death of Hercules 1983 (3)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Called a "feisty iconoclast," Joyce Treiman was born and raised in the Midwest but settled in Southern California.  There she was happiest working in whatever style was not in vogue, and she became a "fevered realist."

She is known for landscapes, ocean views and interiors peopled with odd characters, often self-portraits. Artists who inspired her are Thomas Eakins and Francisco Goya.

American Art Review

Biography from The Columbus Museum of Art, Georgia:
As a young girl, Joyce Treiman recalled how important her frequent visits to the Art Institute of Chicago were toward shaping her development as an artist. (1)  She attended Iowa State University where she studied painting and drawing with Philip Guston, earning her B.F.A in 1943.

Returning to Chicago, she worked as a commercial artist, but after successful exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago and in New York, she devoted herself full time to painting. 

In 1960, Treiman and her husband moved to Pacific Palisades, California. Over the next three decades, she attracted a loyal group of collectors and devoted students. Various art critics have acknowledged that she is an artist's artist.  In 1990, she was elected a member of the National Academy of Design. 

Joyce Treiman adhered to the figurative tradition of the Old Masters, developing a technical virtuosity and thematic approach that resulted in a body of autobiographical work, which considered the transient nature of life, the wry comedy of human existence, the creative process, and her rightful place in art history.  Treiman consistently worked in what she termed the lonely arena of figurative painting. Reflecting her knowledge and admiration of the artistic past, Treiman's paintings often include her self-portrait in conjunction with portraits of artists she admired, such as Giambattista Tiepolo, Thomas Eakins and Claude Monet.

Confronted with in the early 1980s physical illness, Treiman shifted her focus from paintings submerged in art history to themes of mortality but laced with her own dry humor.  She had decided to make a series of "paintings that nobody (would) want?in terms of making them so personal?that (they) couldn't be turned into wallpaper."(2)  Theodore Wolff stated that nothing previously in her work had even hinted at the anger and brooding imagery that would suddenly appear. (3)

Her dramatic change of style and theme suggests that the artist, for whatever reason, became acutely aware of her own mortality and chose to explore this question resulting in these very vivid and meaningful images. 

Joyce Treiman died in 1991 of a heart attack. She was 69 years old.

Sources include:

1. Parts of this entry are drawn from the catalogue for an exhibition curated by Jordana Pomeroy for the National Museum of Women in the Arts: Washington, D.C., Painting in a Lonely Arena: Joyce Treiman and the Old Masters, December 14, 1998 through July 5, 1999.

2. Pomeroy, 5-6.

3. Theodore Wolff, "Joyce Treiman," Joyce Treiman (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1997), 21-22. The series of paintings that Wolff makes specific reference to is her "Mortality Series," now in the Columbus Museum [Self Portrait with Skull; The Ram; The Smoker No. 21; The Torso, (all painted in 1983) 98.49.1-4].

Submitted by Staff, Columbus Museum

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