John Grillo American, 1917-2014


John Grillo is known as one of the greatest Abstract Expressionist painters to have emerged on the postwar artistic stage. In "Art in the San Francisco Bay Area" Thomas Albright pronounced John Grillo as "perhaps the first and purest 'action painter' on the West Coast and one of the most influential painters of San Francisco's school of Abstract Expressionism". He went on to play a seminal role in the post war Bay Area Abstract Expressionist movement that would revolutionize and forever change American Art. In 1948, Grillo left San Francisco for New York City, where he enrolled in Hans Hofmann's school of painting. Hofmann and Grillo were kindred spirits, sharing a mutual respect for one another's work that was similar in color and expression. Hofmann even owned a number of Grillo's works in his personal collection.


Upon Grillo's returned to the East Coast, he was welcomed into the fold of New York's avant-garde. Sam Hunter, reviewing his solo exhibition of San Francisco work at the Artist's Gallery for The New York Times in 1948, singled Grillo out as a leading figure, writing: "His painting acknowledges no allegiance to tradition, exists in a moment of intensity of explosive abstraction." The same year Grillo arrived in New York he had his first one-man show at the Artist's Gallery. He was also selected for the signal show, "15 Unknowns" at the Kootz Gallery in 1950. He worked for over six decades as a painter, sculptor,  printmaker, and art instructor, and is remembered, as critic Donald Kuspit notes, as "the leading master of the second generation of Abstract Expressionists."


Dalielo Gallery, Berkeley CA, 1947 (solo)

Artist's Gallery, NYC, 1948 (solo)

Fifteen Unknowns, Kootz Gallery, NYC, 1950

Tanager Gallery, NYC, 1952, 1960 (solo)

Tibor de Nagy Gallery, 1953 (solo), 1970 (solo)

Whitney Museum of American Art Annuals and Biennials, NYC, 1953, 1959

Stable Gallery Annuals, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957

Vanguard, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, 1955

Bertha Schaefer Gallery, 1955, 1957, 1959 (solo)

60 American Painters, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, 1960

Contemporary Painting, Yale University, CT, 1961

Howard Wise Gallery, 1961, 1962, 1963 (solo)

Abstract Expressionists and Imagists, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC, 1961

Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, TX, 1961, 1962

Ankrum Gallery, University California, Berkeley 1962 (solo)

HCE Gallery, Provincetown, MA, 1962 (solo)

Seattle World's Fair, 1962

East End Gallery, Provincetown, MA, 1963 (solo)

Directions- Painting USA, San Francisco Museum Modern Art, 1963

Hans Hofmann and His Students (traveling exhibition), Museum of Modern Art, NYC, 1963-4

Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH, 1964 (solo)

Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY, 1964

Waitsfield Bundy, 1966 (solo)

New School for Social Research, NYC, 1967 (solo)

Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 1967 (solo)

Simmons College, Boston, MA, 1968 (solo)

Benedict Art Center, St. Joseph, MN, 1969 (solo)

Horizon Gallery, NYC, 1969 (solo)

Robert Dain Gallery, NYC, 1970 (solo)

Print Biennial, Brooklyn Museum of Art, NYC, 1970

Tanager Gallery - Artists of the Fifties, Roko Gallery, NYC, 1970

Landmark Gallery, NYC, 1973 (solo)

The Oakland Museum, California, A Period of Exploration: San Francisco 1945-1950; 1973

Grace Borgenicht Gallery, NYC, 1975, 1977, 1978 (solo)

40 Post War Painters, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC, 1977

Pisces Gallery, Wellfleet, MA, 1977 (solo)

Union College, Cranford, NJ, 1977 (solo)

Art Association, Newport, RI, 1979 (solo)

Provincetown Painters, 1890s - 1970s, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY, 1979

Hans Hofmann as Teacher: Drawings by His Students, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, 1979

Jean Lumbard Fine Arts, NYC, 1982, 1983, 1984 (solo)

University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1983, 1987-1991 (solo)

Museo de Arte Moderna, La Tertulia, 1984 (solo)

Contemporary American Collage (traveling exhibition), Herter Art Gallery, UMass (Amherst), 1987-9

Provincetown Art Association (Retrospective), Provincetown, MA, 1988 (solo)

Cove Gallery, Wellfleet, MA, 1989, '96, '98, '01 (solo)

Aaron Gallery, Chicago, IL, 2000 (solo)

Brooklyn Museum

Carlson Gallery

Guggenheim Museum

Katarina Rich Perlow Gallery

The Oakland Museum, California, A Period of Exploration: San Francisco 1945-1950; 1973

San Francisco Museum of Art

Whitney Museum of American Art

University of Massachusetts, 1988 (solo)

Yale University

Museums and Public Collections

Brooklyn Museum

Butler Institute of American Art

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Provincetown Art Association and Museum

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Bennington College

The British Museum

Bundy Art Gallery Museum, VT

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA

Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Foro de Arte Contimporaneo, Mexico City

Museu de Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia

Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia

Museo ItaloAmericano, San Francisco

Museo Rayo, Roldanillo Valle, Colombia

Newark Museum

Norfolk Museum, VA

Portland Museum, ME

Provincetown Art Association and Museum, MA

San Jose Museum of Art, CA

Smith College Museum, Northampton, MA

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Springfield Art Museum, MO

Stamford Museum of Art, CT

University of California Museum of Art, Berkeley

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

University of New Hampshire

Walker Art Center, MN

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