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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Painting: 20th century: The Angel Israfel
Claude Buck

Claude Buck

(born New York City 1890 -- died Santa Barbara, CA 1974)

“I find the lines I draw and the tones and colors I combine coming sweetly out of memory.” The artist, July 30, 1953, quoted in Karlstrom, Claude Buck: American Symbolist, 1983

Claude Buck started to paint when he was very young and at the age of eight applied to be a copyist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum rejected him because of his age, but Buck kept asking and three years later was finally granted permission to copy the old master paintings. He was the youngest artist ever to study at the National Academy of Design, where he spent eight years creating works inspired by romantic literature. In 1917, Buck founded the Introspectives, a group of four painters who created surreal images and believed that “the poetry of a picture means more . . . than the imitation or even the representation of nature” (Eldredge, “Claude Buck and the Introspectives,” The Shape of the Past, 1981). Later in his career, however, he completely rejected these strange, dreamlike themes and joined the Society for Sanity in Art, which celebrated straightforward, representational painting. (Berney, “Claude Buck: His Life and Art,” Antiques and Fine Art, August 1989)

Image Credits: Self-Portrait Smithsonian American Art Museum. Transfer from the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1983.48.3