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Fairfield Porter Portrait

Fairfield Porter

Born:
Winnetka, Illinois 1907

Died:
Southampton, New York 1975

Active in:

  • Great Spruce Head, Maine

Photo Caption:
Fairfield Porter with a painting of his Chevrolet van, at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, about 1962. Photo by Tibor de Nagy Gallery photographer, from Fairfield Porter papers, courtesy Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Luce Artist Quote

"I never was one to paint space. I paint air." The artist, quoted in Ashberry and Moffett, et al., Fairfield Porter, MFA, Boston, 1982


Luce Artist Biography

Born in Winnetka, Illinois, Fairfield Porter grew up in a family that placed great value on the importance of the arts. From a young age he traveled with his family on vacations to Europe, where paintings by Leonardo, Titian, Veronese, and Turner made a huge impression on him. Porter graduated with a degree in fine art from Harvard in 1928 and moved to New York, where he attended the Art Students League for two years. During the Great Depression, he became involved in politics and Socialism, which led him to writing assignments for the Socialist magazine Arise. He wrote art criticism throughout his life, and in 1951 he was appointed associate editor for Art News. Although a representational painter during a period more noted for abstraction, Porter rejected claims that he was continuing the tradition of American realist painting. He felt that his ambitions had more in common with the abstract artists of his generation such as Willem de Kooning and Joan Mitchell, because he valued the process of painting more highly than any desire to accurately record the subject in front him. Porter's paintings often depict his immediate environment and were mostly created at the family house in Southampton, New York, or at his vacation home at Great Spruce Head Island, Maine.