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Blue in Space

ca. 1937 John Ferren Born: Pendleton, Oregon 1905 Died: Southampton, New York 1970 pastel on paper mounted on paperboard sheet: 19 3/4 x 25 1/2 in. (50.2 x 64.8 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Daisy Shapiro © 1937 John Ferren 1976.130 Not currently on view


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A pioneer of American abstraction, Ferren created this composition during a seven-year sojourn in Paris. He began his career as a sculptor, but turned to painting after he saw an exhibition of work by Henri Matisse and recognized the power of color. In the mid-1930s he worked at Stanley William Hayter’s printmaking workshop in Paris, Atelier 17, where he was encouraged to imprint his engraved and inked plated on wet plaster. When the plaster block dried, it showed the lines of the plate. He then carved into it to create a bas-relief sculpture of modeled and curved planes. Blue in Space resembles one of these carved plasters, translated into two dimensions with the planes defined by the rich colors of soft pastels.

Graphic Masters II: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2009

Keywords

Abstract

drawing

crayon - pastel

paper