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 Natalie Van Vleck  (1901 - 1981)

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Lived/Active: Connecticut      Known for: cubist painting, prints, craftsperson

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Natalie Van Vleck
An example of work by Natalie Van Vleck
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Natalie Van Vleck was among the earliest American women modernists, working in a cubist style in the early 1920s. Raised in New York, she studied at the Art Student's League (starting at age fourteen) for five years under the portraitist, Agnes Richmond. She then studied with George Bridgman (1919) and the modernist, Max Weber (1921-22).

Van Vleck was also a craftsperson, and in 1924 she established a "Wood Carving" studio on 45th Street in New York where she carved picture frames, screens, panels, cabinets, boxes, and other carving objects. She traveled frequently in search of new subjects of inspiration, painting in Mallorca (1921), the Caribbean (1924, 1926, 1929), and spent the winters of 1930-32 on the island of Moorea near Tahiti.

Her paintings and woodblocks of the early 1920's were abstract, even cubist, in nature. By the end of the decade her style had evolved toward a form of regionalism, yet her works from Tahiti are unique in their rhythmical style, recalling the jungle fantasies of Henri Rousseau. In 1928, she settled at her family's farm in Woodbury, Connecticut and designed and built her own English-style studio there. She designed every fixture, and even welded her own modernist aluminum furniture.

In 1934 this pioneering modernist woman suddenly stopped painting, most likely because she devoted her full time to developing her 200-acre farm. Known as a woman of enormous energy, she single-handedly developed a successful turkey business, raised prize Hampshire sheep, and built an orchid greenhouse. In 1963 she fulfilled her dream of chartering her farm as the Flanders Nature Center, a land trust which today maintains nature trails and conservancy programs along with the largest privately held collection of her works.


Sources include:
Peter H. Falk, Natalie Van Vleck, A Life in Art and Nature (Madison: Sound View Press, 1992)
Art in Connecticut: Between World Wars. (Storrs, Conn: William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, 1994

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