Neuberger Museum of Art

Purchase, New York

(914) 251-6100



Fairfield Porter at the Neuberger Museum of Art


Fairfield Porter (1907 - 1975) was one of America's leading artists. He lived in Southampton, New York, from 1949 until his death and it was there that he created some of his most important works. In 1979, in recognition of Porter's bond with the village residents and scenes that inspired him, the Fairfield Porter Estate donated over 250 works to Southampton's Parrish Art Museum. Twenty-eight examples of Porter's works have been selected from the Parrish Art Museum bequest for a touring exhibition. Fairfield Porter, from the Permanent Collection of The Parrish Art Museum will be on view in the Neuberger Museum of Art's Galleries from July 13 through August 31.

The exhibition traces Porter's artistic powers as they emerged in the late 1940s and continued to grow until his death. Porter was a gifted colorist who developed fauve-like color intensities. The exhibition examines several themes, most notably works that portray Porter's intimate knowledge of the woods and paths of the family summer home. Many of the exhibition works illustrate Porter's increasing confidence as a painter and confirm his preoccupation with the concrete basics of painting. Porter focused upon the familiar-- portraits of family, friends and their domestic settings were a predominant theme. Two portraits of poet Anne Channing, his wife, suggest the essential nature and remarkable range of Porter's art. Other works substantiate strong political and social views and an interest in environmentalism--a subject that was not fashionable in his time.

Porter was born into a well-to-do family in Winnetka, Illinois. His development was shaped by early trips abroad and the study of art history and fine arts at Harvard. Early influences included the old masters, Impressionism, and the artist Edouard Vuillard. Porter became involved with socialism and politics during the Depression. Later, Elaine and Willem de Kooning became close friends and had a profound influence on his art.

Porter was recognized as an intelligent and lucid journalist on the arts. For many years he wrote for Art News and eventually became art critic for The Nation. He was a contributor to Art in America and Evergreen Review.

William C. Agee, Professor of Art History, Hunter College, and a leading authority on the art of Fairfield Porter authored the brochure that accompanies the exhibition. Dr. Agee writes, "Though his landscapes convey a powerful sense of place, and his portraits transmit a strong sense of the sitter's presence, his concern was not the literal transcription of what he saw before him. Rather, it was in the paint itself that he found the life of the painting, its wholeness and its vitality. It is the tension between the realist and the abstract that reveals the essential character of Porter's art."

The Parrish Art Museum's organization of the Fairfield Porter exhibition and the exhibition's tour have been made possible by a generous grant from The Henry Luce Foundation.

Additional resource: Selections from The Fairfield Porter Papers

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Rev. 4/28/01

Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

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