Friday, July 17, 2015

Paul Kelpe

Untitled (left panel of a pair), from the Williamsburg Housing Project murals
c. 1938
oil on canvas
249.6 × 227.3 cm   
Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA

Paul Kelpe(1902-1985), born in Minden, Germany, discovered Constructivism and other forms of modernism as an art student in Hanover. By the time he arrived in the United States in 1925, he had developed an abstract geometric style of smooth surfaces and areas of glowing color.

After spending several years in New York and New Jersey, he relocated to Chicago where he studied art at the University of Chicago. From 1935 to 1939, he worked on the Federal Art Project, first in Chicago and then in New York City. One of his most notable projects was a mural for Southern Illinois University, painted in a social realist style. During these years, he maintained his commitment to abstraction in paintings and three-dimensional constructions, despite the fact that his work fell outside the artistic currents predominant in Chicago at that time. In 1935, he returned to New York, where he continued his work as a muralist, creating large-scale abstract compositions for the Williamsburg Housing Project. He was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group.