Cleve Gray American, 1918-2004


Cleve Gray created works that contained fields of color applied with such varied unconventional techniques as pouring, staining, and sponging paint onto the surface of his canvases. Next he added certain gestural marks that had their root source in Chinese calligraphy and other ancient archaeological signs which can be seen in many of his works.Gray was inspired and greatly influenced in the 1960's by such fellow contemporary American abstract expressionist artists as Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler. As a result of these artistic influences he began to produce large paintings which combined expanses of pure color and spontaneous calligraphic gestures to create lyrical abstract compositions. The American artist and iconic gallery owner Betty Parsons described Gray as "a painter who jumped the romantic fence into an ancient field of signs and symbols."


Over the course of an artistic career that spanned more than fifty years Cleve Gray produced a prodigious, varied, and inspiring body of work that bears testimony to a brilliant mind that continuously challenged his own creative processes as well as the world around him. In many ways Gray was literally "born to paint". Fascinated with color at age six he won a prize for a watercolor of his mother seated at the piano in the living room of their two floor apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan. Following graduation from Phillips Andover Academy Gray was initially bent on studying art in Europe but chose instead to attend Princeton University at the request of his father. At Princeton the young artist studied history of art and philosophy and was first exposed to the abstract expressionist movement as well as to both Chinese and Japanese art. All these disciplines would have a profound effect on the young artist and his later work. Gray graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Princeton; his thesis on Yuan Dynasty landscape painting is used as a teaching tool even to this day.


American Academy of Arts and Letters


Alfred Messer Studio Gallery, Tucson, 1942

Galerie Durand-Ruel, American Painters, Paris, 1943-1946

Jacques Seligmann Gallery, New York, 1946 (solo), 1948, 1949, 1954, 1957, 1959

Whitney Museum of American Art, 1946-7, 1963, 1964, 1965

Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1946-7, 1986

Toledo Museum, Ohio, 1946-7

Art Institute of Chicago, 58th Annual Exhibition, 1948

Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts, Biennial Exhibition, 1948

Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington. D.C., 21st Biennial Exhibition, 1949; 24th Biennial Exhibition, 1955; 27th Biennial Exhibition, 1961; 28th Annual Exhibition, 1963

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Young American Painters, 1950

Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, Works by Cleve Gray, American Artist, 1950

Brooklyn Museum, New York, International Watercolor Exhibition, 1951

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, Young Painters U.S., 1951

Dayton Art Institute, Ohio, The City by the River and the Sea, 1951

Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign, Contemporary American Painting; (University of Illinois Purchase Award), 1951, 1957, 1959, 1969

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 146th Annual Exhibition (1951); subsequent exhibitions: 1958, 1960, 1962 (157th Annual Exhibition), 1964 (159th Annual Exhibition)

Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 62nd Annual Exhibition (1952); 63rd Annual Exhibition (1953), 64th Annual Exhibition (1954)

Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, Steel, Iron, Men, 1954

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, American Paintings, 1954

Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, American Paintings 1954

Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, New York, Italy Rediscovered, 1955

Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, 1957 (solo)

Solo Gallery, Richmond, Virginia, 1958, 1963

Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan, 1st Biennial Exhibition, 1958; 2nd Biennial Exhibition, 1960

Staempfli Gallery, 1960 (solo), 1962, 1964

Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, Eight from Connecticut, 1960

Galerie Internationale, Washington, D.C. 1961

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY, Abstract Expressionists and Imagists, 1961 Tokyo, Japan, 6th International Art Exhibition, 1961

John Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis, Contemporary Drawings, 1961

The Art Center in Hargate, St. Paul's School, Concord, NH, Drawings USA/61, /64, /66, /68

Art Museum, Princeton University, 1963, 1972

Jerrold Morris International Gallery, Toronto, 1963

Galeria Grattacielo, Milan, Italy, 1963

Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences, Virginia, American Drawing Biennial, 1965

Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA, New England Regional Drawing Exhibition, 1965

Saidenberg Gallery, New York, 1965, 1967

Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI 1966

Florida State University Art Gallery, Tallahassee, FL, 1967

University Art Museum, Berkeley, California, Selections 7967

Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., 1969

Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA, Seven Decades-Seven Alumni of Phillips Academy, 1969

Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1978, 1979, 1982

Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1970, 1971

Sneed Hillman Gallery, Rockford, Illinois, 1973

Neuberger Museum, State University of New York at Purchase, 1973

American Embassy, Bucharest, Rumania, Arte Americana Contemporana, 1976

Cathedral Museum of Art, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NY, Sacred Images, 1978

Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, Connecticut, 1979, 1986, 1990

Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Connecticut, Cleve Gray, 1980

Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana, Painting and Sculpture Today, 1980

Washington Art Association, Washington Depot, Connecticut, works on paper, 1982

Armstrong Gallery, New York, Cleve Gray: A Small Retrospective, 1934-1986

Benjamin Mangel Gallery, Philadelphia, 1986

Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, New York, Barnard Collects: The Educated Eye, 1986

Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut, The Connecticut Biennial, 1986

Berry-Hill Gallery, New York, Cleve Gray: The Painted Line, 1990

Central Connecticut State University, Samuel S. T. Chen Art Center, New Britain, CT, Cleve Gray Paintings, 1980-1990

Museums and Public Collections

Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

The Brooklyn Museum, New York

Cathedral of Saint John the Divine Art Gallery, New York

Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine

Columbia University Art Gallery, New York

Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio

Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York University, New York

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Heckscher Museum, Huntington, New York

Honolulu Academy of the Arts, Hawaii

Jewish Museum, New York

Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign

Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, Connecticut

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul

Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Museum of Modern Art, New York

National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Neuberger Museum, State University of New York at Purchase

New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut

Newark Museum, New Jersey

Norton Gallery of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida

Oklahoma City Art Center, Oklahoma

The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Art Museum, Princeton University, New Jersey

Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts

Shearson Lehman Hutton Collection, New York

Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Shite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, Indiana

Tennessee Botanical Gardens and Fine Arts Center, Nashville

Union Station, Hartford, Connecticut

Vanderbilt Art Gallery, Nashville, Tennessee

Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut

Willard Gibbs Research Laboratory, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

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