Sep 17, 2020 - Sale 2542

Sale 2542 - Lot 109

Price Realized: $ 12,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,000 - $ 5,000
Solemn Hill, California.

Oil on canvas, circa 1930. 693x840 mm; 27 3/4x33 inches. Signed in oil, lower left recto.

Ex-collection private collection of Betty and Douglas Duffy (owners of Bethesda Art Gallery); thence by descent to current owner, private collection, Houston.

Born in Sweden, as Nils Ahgren, Gren (1893-1940) sailed for Australia in his teens, and intended only to visit, but remained for several years and there received his early artistic training. Though a temporary resident of Sydney, his early work in Australia formed part of the vital movement of emerging modernist practices during the period between the wars, and he was an important member of the city's contemporary cultural milieu. By 1919, Gren had immigrated to New York and found work as a designer for a pattern manufacturer. In 1925, he moved to Southern California where he studied art with the prominent synchromist painter Stanton MacDonald Wright (1890-1973), whose work had been of significant importance to the late 1910s colour-music experiments of the Australian artists Roland Wakelin (1887-1971) and Roy de Maistre (1894-1968), with whom Gren had trained in Sydney, and which no doubt had led him to seek out Wright in Los Angeles.

Gren moved to San Francisco in the late 1920s. Unfulfilled with his style to that point, around 1930 he destroyed much of his earlier work. His extant oil paintings and lithographs from the 1930s are mostly still lifes, landscapes and scenes of San Francisco.