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Description: The artist referred to this type of pattern as "the thickets"
Condition Report: excellent
Notes: Gil Cuatrecasas [1935-2004] has emerged as the secret master of the Color Field movement of the 1960s–70s. He created an entirely unique brushless style and technique. His paintings from 1970–76 have their closest affinity those of a Washington Color School colleague, Sam Gilliam. However, it was after Cuatrecasas left the Capitol in 1966 when these two artists developed their breakthrough styles 4,000 miles apart and unaware of each other’s work. During this period Cuatrecasas lived and worked reclusively in a grand villa in Torino, Italy, creating a large and mature body of paintings whose colorful dendritic patterns and complex glazing form a transcendental botany. One of Cuatrecasas’s patrons was the Italian art publisher and collector, Umberto Allemandi. “His total, obsessive devotion to painting impressed me deeply,” he wrote. “He came preceded by his fame of having left each of his studios, from Washington to Barcelona, choking with canvases.” As a boy Cuatrecasas escaped Spain with his family during the brutal Franco uprising and embarked on a new life in South America, finally immigrating to the United States in 1947. After studying art at Harvard, and then under Josef Albers at Yale, he became part of the Washington Color School. He was given a solo exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1965, and in 1966 his paintings were shown at the museums of modern art in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and Barcelona. That year he resettled in Spain. Cuatrecasas became reclusive and shunned galleries. But in 1976 he agreed to a solo exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston. In June the city was suddenly hit with the worst flooding disaster in the city’s history. Nine people drowned. Eight feet of water flooded the museum’s basement where most of the paintings were stored. More than 200 of his canvases were destroyed. Just two weeks before the exhibition of a lifetime was to open it was cancelled. Cuatrecasas returned to Spain despondent. Worse, he would soon suffer a devastating sequence that began with alcoholism, was followed by tuberculosis, and culminated with cancer. Now his collection presents a new and compelling chapter in art history, shared by America and Spain after having been buried for more than forty years.
Provenance: Cuatrecasas Estate Collection
Dimensions: 91 x 88
Artist or Maker: Gil Cuatrecasas
Medium: acrylic on canvas