Artist biography

James Brooks born 1906 [- 1992]

American Abstract Expressionist painter, born in St Louis, Missouri. Lived from 1916-26 in Dallas, Texas, where he attended the Southern Methodist University 1923-5, majoring in art, and afterwards studied 1925-6 at Dallas Art Institute and with Martha Simkins, a former student of William Merritt Chase. Moved in 1926 to New York. Attended night classes at the Art Students League 1927-30, while working as commercial letterer and display artist. Began in the early 1930s to work in a social-realist sfyle and was employed 1936-42 as a mural painter on the WPA Federal Art Project; his murals included one of 'Flight' over 71 metres long for La Guardia Airport. Served in the US Army 1942-5. Resumed painting in 1945 and turned to synthetic Cubism. Close friendship with Jackson Pollock from 1946 leading in 1948-9 to his development of an abstract style with swirling, rhythmical brushwork and patches of colour. First one-man exhibition at the Peridot Gallery, New York, 1949. Has since tended to work with larger colour areas. Taught drawing at Columbia University, New York, 1946-8 and lettering at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, 1948-59. Artist-in-Residence at the American Academy in Rome 1963. Lives in New York and East Hampton, New York.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.83