Post War American Painting New England and the Providence School

Bert Gallery Introduction

On December 7, 1941 every American life changed with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II. Most American artists left art school or faculty positions to serve in the war and while many American artists adjusted to the disruption in their career, the war irrevocably transformed the art world. The Post War art profession was convulsing with new ideas and approaches in painting. A variety of New England and Providence artists were transformed by the art currents of European modernists like Cezanne, Surrealists like Dali, cubists like Braque, Abstract Expressionists like Pollock & De Kooning and Geometric Abstractionists like Albers.

This Bert Gallery's online exhibit documents the many fine examples of New England and The Providence School Post War American art available at the gallery.

Image: Gordon Peers

Gordon Peers 1909 - 1988

In Providence, teaching at Rhode Island School of Design, Gordon Peers (1909 - 1988) evolved through the fantasy side of realism in a Surrealist phase and landed in the European modernist style of Paul Cezanne "building form with color and using "thick layers of pigment often applied with a palette knife." Metmuseum.org

Image: Painter's Beach Still Life, Oil on Canvas 30" x 35.5", $5,000.

"Bottle of Wine" , Oil on Canvas 40" x 50", $10,000.
"Red Sails", Oil on Canvas 40" x 50", $10,000.
"Caduques, Spain, 1955", Oil on Canvas 30" x 40", $4,800.
"Homage to Cezanne", Oil on Canvas 40" x 50", $10,000.

Karl Knaths (1891-1971)

Knaths was a Provincetown summer resident and painted The Candle, an early Cubist work exhibited at New York city's Paul Rosenberg Gallery in 1945. Knaths "used multiple vantage points to fracture images into geometric forms." (The Artstory.org) in his early work garnering the patronage of famed collector Duncan Phillips beginning in 1926.

"Candle, 1945" Oil on Canvas 27" x 37", Exhibition Label: Paul Rosenberg & co, Price on Request

Florence Leif 1913 - 1968

Leif quickly transformed her style along with husband Gordon Peers post war and settled into an expressionist style, happy to source her work with realistic objects and locations using rich color and bold lines.

"Reflections", Oil on Canvas 40" x 50", $10,000.
"Belgrade Lake, 1963" , Oil on Canvas 37" x 50", $7,500.
"Outcast Angels, 1955", Oil on Canvas 40" x 50", $10,000.

L. Marianetti 1916 - 2009

Artists such as Louise Marianetti were attracted to the strangeness of Magic Realism, rejecting expressive styles and sources of the Freudian unconscious. In her hyper realistic egg tempera works she looks at the strangeness of outward experience. Her subjects speak to the "feelings of alienation and isolation felt in the modern era." (theartstory.org)

"Batina & Nikki" , Egg Tempera on Board 27" x 23", $5,000.
Wooden Figure, Egg Tempera on Board, 34" x 26", $3,500
Thoughtful, 1941 Gouache 17" x 14" , $3,500.
Picina, 1944, Oil on Board 10" x 8", $1,500.

WALTER FELDMAN 1925 - 2017

In the Post War era Walter Feldman (1925 – 2017) was drawn to the Abstract Expressionists early in his career. Graduating from Yale under the tutelage of both Albers and de Kooning, Feldman was nurtured by the giants of American abstraction early in his career. WWII left Feldman battle scarred from an explosion and a witness to the Jewish genocide. War violence and Jewish heritage become recurrent themes that surface in his 1950’s and 60’s abstract works such as Ardennes Skirmish, Imperial Judgment and Sign in the Eastern Desert.

Imperial Judgement, 1958, Oil on Canvas 50" x 34", Price on Request


Karl Knaths 1891 - 1971, The Candle, 1945