Painter. A first generation New York Abstract Expressionist. Marine life is suggested by the titles Baziotes selected for many of his paintings, which showed the Surrealist influences of Joan Miró and André Masson in the use of biomorphic shapes. The artist exhibited his paintings widely in national and international exhibitions.
Joan Stahl American Artists in Photographic Portraits from the Peter A. Juley & Son Collection (Washington, D.C. and Mineola, New York: National Museum of American Art and Dover Publications, Inc., 1995)
Born 11 June 1912, Pittsburgh. Family moved to Reading, Pa., 1913. Worked for stained-glass company about 1931–32. Moved to New York, 1933. Studied with Leon Kroll at theNational Academy of Design, 1933–36. Taught for the Works Progress Administration/FederalArt Project, 1936–38. 1938–40 worked on WPA Easel Painting Project. 1941, married Ethel Copstein. 1944, first one-man show at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery, New York. 1948, founded Subjects of the Artist school with David Hare, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko. 1949–52, taught at Brooklyn Museum Art School and New York University; 1950–52, at Museum of Modern Art; 1952–62, at Hunter College, New York. Died 6 June 1963, New York City.
William Kloss Treasures from the National Museum of American Art (Washington, D.C. and London: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985)
William Baziotes began his career at a glass company in Reading, Pennsylvania, then moved to New York in 1933 to study at the National Academy of Design. He was fascinated by classical art, literature, and nature and often visited the old-master paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as the fossil and ethnographic collections at the Museum of Natural History. He struggled to develop a style of painting until he saw an exhibition of Picasso’s work in 1939. He later recalled that he looked at Picasso until “I could smell his armpits and the cigarette smoke on his breath. Finally … I got it. I saw that the figure was not his real subject … Picasso had uncovered a feverishness in himself and is painting it—a feverishness of death and beauty” (Interview with Gordon Onslow-Ford, 1975, quoted in William Baziotes: A Retrospective Exhibition, 1978). Baziotes believed that the artist’s spirit was far more important than his subject matter and allowed the image to “reveal itself” on the canvas as he painted. (William Baziotes, Paintings and Works on Paper, Exhibition catalogue, 1984)