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Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
BALCOMB GREENE (1904-1990)
Untitled. Collage. 225x305 mm; 8x11 7/8 inches. Signed and dated "38 C2" in pencil, lower right recto. 1938.
Balcomb and Gertrude Greene (1904-1956, see lot 100) were among the earliest American artists to produce abstract art, creating experimental, non-objective works in the 1930s. Balcomb began his career studying and teaching psychology, while Gertrude focused her early studies on sculpture at the Leonardo da Vinci School in New York. When the couple married in 1926, they moved to Vienna where Balcomb continued his studies in psychology before moving to New Hampshire for three years when Balcomb was hired by Dartmouth. After his tenure at the university, Balcomb recognized his true passion was painting and in 1931 he went to Paris to study at the Academie de la Grande Chaumière. During this time, Gertrude was committed to her work as a sculptor and was inspired by abstract movements such as Constructivism and Neo-plasticism.
Both artists produced and championed abstract art in their artistic output as well as through activism, particularly during the 1930s. Gertrude continued her three-dimensional work through the 1930s to the mid-1940s before pivoting to painting for the remainder of her career. Balcomb focused on non-objective art through the 1940s before reintroducing the figure into his work later in his career. They were founding members of the American Abstract Artists group when it was formed in 1937. Gertrude was its first paid employee, working the desk at the Squibb Gallery exhibition in 1937 (the organization's first yearly show), and Balcomb was its first chairman. Its mission was to gain acceptance of abstract art within the mainstream artistic communities. In addition to its group exhibitions, the Greenes along with other members took a more active approach and routinely picketed art museums that did not feature abstract art.