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Earl Kerkam (American, 1891-1965), Untitled (Vase with flowers), oil on canvasboard, signed

Earl Kerkam (American, 1891-1965), Untitled (Vase with flowers), oil on canvasboard, signed

Item Description:

Signed "Kerkam" upper right, in a mid-century frame


Minor surface soiling. Minor abrasions along the turning edges. Please contact cataloging@lofty.com for specific condition questions. Not examined out of the frame. Lofty does not guarantee the condition or authenticity of frames.


F.A.R. Galleries, Inc., New York

Private Collection, Pomona, New York


Sight: Height 20.5 in. x Width 11 in.

Frame" Height 27 i. x Width 18 in.

About The Artist:

Earl Kerkam abandoned a well-paid career as a commercial artist to study painting. He studied at the Rand School, the Art Student's League, and the School of Design, before moving to France to continue his studies. In Paris, he attended the AcadéŽmie de la Grande Chaumière and the AcadŽémie Colarossi from 1924 to 1929. He was in charge of the American Art Gallery in Paris for a brief period. He exhibited paintings with André Derain, a member of Henri Matisse's circle, Les Fauves (in English "the wild beasts"), known for their wild colors and distorted, bold shapes.

After the Great Depression began, Kerkam returned to America. In the early 1930s he was the art editor for "Progress" magazine. From 1933 to 1943 he was employed with the Easel Project of the Works Progress Administration, where he worked with the Abstract Expressionists Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, among others. During World War II, he created posters for the New York City Department of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity. The posters were designed to promote wartime conservation of natural resources.

In the late 1940s, Kerkam became involved with The Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, an organization devoted to making the public and the press more aware of the importance and diversity of non-academic art. The Federation developed what was, at the time, a unique method of encouraging museums to include contemporary works of art in their collections. The Federation would find donors to purchase the works, and then approach museums to accept them. As a result, museums across the country began accepting contemporary art.

Although he never experienced much fame with the general public, Kerkam garnered the respect of other artists because of his devotion to painting. He worked mostly in still life and figures, particularly in self-portraits, in part because he could seldom afford to hire models. He was very cognizant of the traditions of modern painting, so he returned consistently to the paintings of Paul Cezanne and the Cubists for inspiration. However, Kerkam's paintings remained too tied to tradition, both with regard to subject matter and form, for exhibition alongside the more radical Abstract Expressionists. As a result, he is rarely mentioned in discussions of the period.

His paintings have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Corcoran Art Gallery, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Mellon Galleries. He taught briefly at the New York Studio School before his death in 1965.


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