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 Alice Morgan Wright  (1881 - 1975)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: sculptor-cubist figure

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Ad Code: 3
Alice Morgan Wright
from Auction House Records.
Dancing Figure
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Alice Morgan Wright grew up in Albany, New York and became one of the first American sculptors to use cubist forms, as in "Medea" (1920). She studied sculpture at the Art Students League from 1905 to 1910 with Herman MacNeil, Gutzon Borglum, and James Earle Fraser.

While in Paris at the Academie Colarossi, 1910 1912, she was impressed by the Cubist movement and began to integrate its fractured planes and geometric forms with expressive themes. Her statue of Lady Macbeth is at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D. C.

"American Women Artists", by Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein)
Alice Morgan Wright, born in Albany, New York in 1881, became a successful modernist sculptor who, by 1930 had stopped working in her art to become an internationally famous advocate for the humane treatment of animals. Her desire for social reform had earlier manifested itself in her joining the fight to give women the vote.

Wright graduated in 1904 from Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, where she founded the Collegiate Equal Suffrage League, pointing toward the future direction of her life. She then studied at the Art Students League in New York City with James Earle Fraser and Hermon Atkins MacNeil, where, like other female students, she was not allowed in drawing classes with nude male models. Her ingenuity and determination to learn anatomy led her to attend boxing and wrestling matches.

She went to Paris in 1909 to continue her studies at the Academie Colarossi and Academie des Beaux Arts. While on the ship crossing the Atlantic, Wright met women's rights advocate Emmeline "Fanny" Pankhurst, joining her National Women's Social and Political Union. Wright would ally with Pankhurst in a public demonstration in London in 1912, be arrested and imprisoned with her in Holloway Prison, suffering three months of hard labor and hunger strikes. Wright would remain committed to this cause upon her return to the United States in 1914, leading 20,000 women's suffrage marchers in New York City.

Influenced by Auguste Rodin, Wright exhibited at the National Academy of Design, New York City, in 1909 before traveling abroad, winning the Saint-Gaudens and Gutzon Borglum prizes. In Europe, she showed in 1910 at the Paris Girls Club; 1911 at the Royal Academy of Art, London; 1912 in the Paris Salon; and 1913 at the Salon d'Automne. She showed her work in 1916 at Marius de Zayas' Modern Gallery, and in 1917, in the first Society of Independent Artists exhibition. Wright also exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago; the 1939 New York World's Fair; Philadelphia Institute of Art, Pennsylvania; Albany Institute of History and Art, New York; and Smith College.

Wright opened a studio in 1914 in Greenwich Village, New York, in MacDougal Alley, which she would keep until 1920. Her sculpture was inspired by contemporary geniuses of modern dance like Nijinsky, Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis. Wright also sculpted figures from the classical past, L. Clark Seelye, the first president of Smith College, as well as her friends.

Alice Morgan Wright's work may be found in the collections of the Albany Institute of History and Art, New York; Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina; the Folger Shakespeare Library, and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

In 1920, Wright returned to Albany; and by 1930, was no longer working as an artist. She became, however, chairperson of the National Women's Party from 1945 to 1947. . She founded the New York State League of Women Voters, and was awarded the New York State Suffrage Party Medal. It was when women won the vote in l921, that Wright became involved in animal rights. She was a founding member of the National Humane Society in America, and founded the Peace Plantation in Waterford, Virginia in 1965, the first humane educational center and shelter in the United States.

She died in 1975 in Albany, at age 94, in her home since childhood at 393 State Street. Now known as the Morgan State House, a 19th Century townhouse of American Aesthetic design, her home is operated today as a bed and breakfast.

Jules and Nancy Heller, "North American Women Artists"

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Alice Wright is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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