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Four of Cups

Documentation Signed
Documentation Notes Estate of Sam Esses
Origin United States
Period 1920-1949
Materials Gouache on Bristol board
Dimensions
W. 24 in; H. 36 in;
W. 60.96 cm; H. 91.44 cm;
Condition Good.
Creation Date c. 1930
Description Lawrence Fine Art is pleased to present this early, c. 1930 never-before-seen surrealist work by American master Rolph Scarlett.

A major proponent of non-objective painting, Rolph Scarlett's (1889-1984) career and artistic philosophy is closely linked with the early history of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. His work, along with that of Kandinsky, Klee, and German artist Rudolph Bauer formed the core of the Guggenheim's collection--the "Art of Tomorrow." Indeed, the original collection of the Guggenheim contained 66 works by Scarlett.

Exposed very early on to the work of Paul Klee through a chance meeting in Europe with the artist himself, Scarlett took up abstraction with a fervor that never diminished during his long and impressive career. To create something that had never existed before: this was Scarlett's great cause. He would become known for his geometrics, his surrealist works, Indian Field paintings, drip works and AbEx works. In his abstraction, Scarlett avoided any reference to the outside world and believed that nonobjective painting was an act, in his words, of "pure creation."

In 1937, after permanently settling in New York, Scarlett became acquainted with the artist and curator Hilla Rebay, the first director of the Museum of Non-Objective Painting (renamed the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1952). From 1940 to 1946, Scarlett served as the museum's chief lecturer, giving Sunday afternoon talks on art. Through Rebay, Scarlett became acquainted with the nonobjective works of Rudolf Bauer and Vasily Kandinsky and further refined his abstract style.

In 1949 he had a very well received solo show at the Jacques Seligmann Gallery, reviewed very favorably in The New York Times: "The impression made by these paintings is one of originality and strength." He was also included in a juried show "American Painting Today" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1950 and in the Whitney Annual of 1951. The curator for the Whitney show in fact bypassed a selection of Scarlett's careful geometrics in favor of a new "lyrical" drip painting-one which he describes as having had "a helluva good time" making.

Personality disputes after the death of Solomon Guggenheim sent Scarlett to a self-imposed exile in Woodstock, NY, where he would remain the rest of his life.

Scarlett's work can be found in the collections of the Guggenheim, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the de Young Museum, the Montreal Museum and the Smithsonian.'
Styles / Movements Surrealism
Incollect Reference Number 302359
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