Theodore Franklin Appleby, Jr., an Abstract Expressionist artist, was born January 28, 1923 in Asbury Park, New Jersey to a very prominent and successful business family well known in Monmouth County. He attended the Pauling School in New York City and studied at the atelier of John Corneal (1938-1939). On December 12, 1942 he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and saw action in 1945 in the Marshall Islands, namely Kwajalein, Eniwetok, and Engebi. Later he was stationed from 1945-1946 at Yokohama, where he studied Japanese engravings. He remained in the Pacific Theater until his discharge as a Sergeant in 1946.
During a stay in Mexico from 1947-1948 Appleby studied monumental mural painting at St. Michele de Allende University. The following year he went to Paris. He regularly visited the atelier of Fernand Leger and was represented every year from 1950-1952 in the "Salon de Novelles Realitées". Appleby is one of numerous Americans who became part of the post war artistic Parisian scene that included Norman Bluhm, Sam Francis, and Jackson Pollack.
From 1955 to 1961 Appleby was part of group exhibitions in Chicago, Leverkusen, Germany, Lisbon, Portugal, London, England, Paris, France, and others. He also had three solo exhibitions during this period: in 1956 at the Studio Facchetti in Paris; 1957 at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York City; and in 1959 in Paris, a double exposition with Ralph Stackpole (1885-1973, American sculptor, painter, muralist, etcher, and art educator) at the American Cultural Center. In January 1957 his work was presented at the 62nd American Exposition of Painters and Sculptors at the Chicago Art Institute where he was awarded the Norman Wait Harris Bronze Medal and Prize.
Appleby later moved to the South of France settling in Alba Ardeche until his death in 1987.
This Appleby canvas is dynamic and explosive, generating a sense of movement across the canvas with its variety of strokes. Periwinkle, magenta, and deep teal are married together in a saturated, harmonious palette, and segmented by white web-like lines that define the composition’s sense of movement. This painting was once a part of the collection of Gaston de Havenon, a New York art dealer who specialized in African Art and whose gallery was located at the Fuller Building; it has since passed down directly to his daughter and then to his daugther’s husband upon her death, all the while remaining in the family. The piece is emotionally charged and potent in its presence, a product of the war experiences of the artist who fought in the Pacific theatre during World War II. It is possible that the splatters of paint strewn across the canvas are influenced by the paintings of Jackson Pollock whose work Appleby was aware of as they both showed at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York in the 1950’s. Juxtaposing these thin, watery beads are thicker, more concentrated strokes that appear as though they were applied with a sponge. It is interesting to note how Appleby chooses not to paint the canvas completely; in fact, patches of its natural hemp-brown color are left exposed. As a result, there are traces of vulnerability, rawness, and bareness, all of which were felt heavily in the 1950’s. Despite the heavy concentration of color in some areas, there are rivulets of white paint that create positive and negative space within the composition. It can perhaps be interpreted that this contrast is representative of the division between the pre-war and post-war worlds; despite the concentration of the pre-war world, the post-war world seeps through from the background to the forefront.
Estate of Gaston de Havenon, 1993
By descent to Sarah de Havenon Fowler
By inheritance to Joseph Fowler, New York