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.
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