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Alfred Henry Maurer
Abstraction, Abstract, Fauve, Fauvism, Strong Coloration, Modernist, Modernism
Alfred H. Maurer (1868 -1932) was the son of Louis Maurer who was a commercial artist for Currier & Ives. He left school at the age of 16 to work in the family lithographic enterprise of Maurer and Heppenheimer. His formal art training was at the National Academy of Design in New York, and, briefly at the Academie Julian in Paris. Maurer officially launched his career in 1901 with society portraits that generated critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. He lived in France from 1897-1901 and again from 1902-1914 when he was influenced by the work of the European modernists, especially Matisse and the Fauves, whose use of simplified form and brilliant color attracted him and had an immediate impact on his own work. He abandoned his Whistler and Romantic Realist inspired figurative paintings in favor of the modernist tenets of the avant-garde, which he would incorporate for the remainder of his career. Maurer exhibited at the Armory Show of 1913 when modernist art was first widely exhibited in America and the Society of Independent Artists beginning 1917 until his death.
In the years prior to Maurer's tragic suicide in 1932, he created an astonishing body of work that further identified his role in shaping American modernist ideals.
During the last two decades of Maurer's life, he painted vibrant florals, landscapes, and portraits, especially double portraits such as this one that demonstrates the dramatic shift in the artist's style in the first third of the twentieth century when modernism and abstraction changed the art world forever. These standard subjects created the opportunity to experiment with the basic language of art. The exquisite color and simplified forms in this painting make it a significant example of American Modernism. The frame was also designed and painted by Maurer to relate specifically to this painting thus providing a complete "package."