Victor Thall belongs to that unique American brand of rugged individualist. Working closely for a time with such painters as Gorky and de Kooning, Thall wasn't content to join the burgeoning American clique of Abstract Expressionism. Instead, on the eve of its international recognition, he abandoned New York, making a worldwide tour of indigenous cultures attempting to find a solution to the crisis of abstraction.
Thall felt that painting needed to communicate in a way that Abstract Expressionism could not. Using parts of its vocabulary, Thall created work that was modern in spirit but based on fundamental traditions that he believed connected the whole history of art. In this way he resembled his contemporary Max Beckman, and it is fitting that Thall was chosen with Beckman by The New Yorker art critic Robert Coates as the best painter of the 1949 Whitney Annual.
Fiercely uncompromising in his opinions, Thall sadly fell into obscurity in his later years. Yet it was a willful obscurity. But America does eventually honor her difficult individualists, even if sometimes years after their deaths.
Victor Thall was born in New York in 1902. He studied at the Art Students League under Arthur B. Davies, George Bellows, George Luks, and John Sloan. Further studies were at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He left for Paris in 1924 continuing his studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and the Academie Julien. Returning to the United States in the early 1930's, he became friendly with Willem de Kooning and Arshile Gorky. He participated in the WPA New Deal Art Project of New York City between 1935 and 1939. He taught at the Art Students League in the late forties and was represented in the Whitney Annual of 1949 and 1950. His paintings are in numerous private collections in the United States and Europe. He died in 1983.
1914 -1927 Art Student's League - Studied with:Arthur B. Davies, George Bellows, George Bridgman, George Luks, Von Schlegel, Robert Henri, John Sloan, Frank Vincent du Mond.
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts - Studied with:Arthur B. Carles, Henry McCarter
Ecole des Beaux Arts – Paris; Grande Chaumiere – Paris; Academie Julien, Paris
1947 -1949 Art Students League
Selected Solo and Group Exhibitions:
1924 -1933 Paris. Cagnes sur Mer, Madrid, Rome, London
1935 -1939 WPA, New York Program, Easel Section
1943 -1953 O'Connor Gallery, NYC; Puma Gallery, NYC; Milch Gallery, NYC; Levitt Gallery, NYC; Chinese Gallery, NYC;Binet Gallery, NYC;
Whitney Museum of American Art, Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, 1949 and 1950
1954 -1974 Studio Gallery, Naples, FL; Leicester Galleries, London, UK; Southampton East, NYC;Guildhall Gallery, Chicago, IL; Summit, Inc., NYC; L'Institut Francais d'Haiti; DePoliolo, Palm Springs, CA.
Falk, Peter Hastings , ed. The Annual and Biennial Exhibition Record of the Whitney Museum of Art 1918-1989. (New York): Sound View Press, 1991.
Levick, L.E., "A Guide to the Art Galleries," New York Journal American, May 23, 1964. Review of one-man show at Southampton Gallery.
1950 Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1950.
Coates, Robert M., "The Art Galleries: Paul Klee, The Whitney Annual, and John Marin, The New Yorker, December 31, 1949, pp. 42-43.
1949 Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting. New York: Whitney
Museum of American Art, 1949.
Lansford, Alonzo, "Thall at Binet," The Art Digest, December 15, 1947, ill.
Upton, Melville, "George Binet Gallery," Sun, December 13, 1947.
Devree, Howard, "Victor Thall at the Binet Gallery," New York Times, December 10, 1947.
"Victor Thall at Binet Gallery," Art News, December 1947, p. 59.
Oil Paintings by Victor Thall, New York: George Binet Gallery, 1947.
Burrows, Carlyle, "Art of the Week," Herald Tribune, 1946. Review of group show at the Chinese Gallery.
Coates, Robert M., "The Art Galleries: Past and Present," The New Yorker,
May 27, 1944, pp. 68-69
Victor Thall at Puma Gallery," Art News, November 1-14, 1943, p. 22.
Devree, Howard, "Victor Thall," New York Times, October 24, 1943.
Burrows, Carlyle, "Victor Thall at the Puma Gallery," Herald-Tribune,
October 24, 1943
Upton, Melville, "Victor Thall at Puma Gallery," Sun, October 23, 1943.
Lansford, Alonzo, "Varied Shows of the Week," The Art Digest, October 1943. Review of Puma Exhibition.
Victor Thall Oil Paintings, New York: Puma Gallery, 1943.
Art News, "Our Own Exhibition Gallery," June-july 1943, ill.
MacLeod, Norman. Thanksgiving Before November. New York, 1936. Book ill.
Selected Public and Private Collections:
Desmond Child, Los Angeles
Robert Crewe, Los Angeles
Sidney Lumet, New York
Billy Steinberg, Los Angeles
Information courtesy of Gary Herwood.