Walter Quirt Art-Historic Estate (1902-1968)
“The painter Walter Quirt was a major figure in the American Surrealist and abstract expressionist movements in the 1930’s and 1940’s but then lapsed into obscurity. Thanks to the efforts of Seattle dealer Frederick Holmes And Company a Quirt revival has been underway for several years now and it’s about to gather even more steam.” John Dorfman, Editor-in Chief ART AND ANTIQUES MAGAZINE, 2017
As one of the first Americans to experiment with surrealism in the early 1930s, illustrator and painter Walter Quirt made pioneering efforts to change society for the better through art that was as political as it was self-aware. Quirt’s radical beliefs and unpredictable personality went hand-in-hand with his ever-changing artistic style, and his passionate temperament allowed him to create a body of work ranging from colorful depictions of simple joy to profoundly haunting masterpieces.
Quirt was a significant contributor to the canon of 20th century American avante-garde, represented in New York between 1936 and 1959, by the top galleries including Julien Levy and Durlocher Brothers. Robert Coates, art critic for The New Yorker, and the critic who coined the term, “Abstract Expressionism”, described Quirt in 1943 as …one of the most impassioned artists alive today!”
Between 1960 and 1962, a retrospective sponsored by The Ford Foundation and distributed by The American Federation of Art traveled the United States. Quirt’s paintings were featured in seven Whitney Annuals between 1938 and 1958; and six groups shows produced by the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Walter Quirt’s work is included in over twenty-eight permanent collections including The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); The Whitney Museum of American Art: The Smithsonian Museum of American Art; The deYoung Museum; The Museum of Modern Art/San Francisco; The Walker Art Center; The Henry Art Gallery; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art; and many others.
Upon his passing in 1968, due to the wishes of his widow, Eleanor, Quirt’s work was lovingly maintained intact by the family and has remained virtually hidden until recently. The first important exhibition since 1980, “REVOLUTIONS UNSEEN”, curated by Mr. Travis Wilson, was held by the gallery in May 2015.
In May 2016, the gallery opened “WALTER QUIRT: WORKS ON PAPER, 1956-1964”, exhibiting over twenty paintings – acrylic on paper – most of which had never been seen since their execution over half a century earlier.
November 2017 marked what would’ve been Quirt’s 115th birthday. In honor of that occasion, the gallery opened “WALTER QUIRT: A SCIENCE OF LIFE”, an important retrospective featuring paintings, drawings, and works on paper, dating from 1942-1967. This exhibition and the accompanying catalogue, while exploring the early years of Quirt’s career in New York (1929-1944), focuses predominantly on the last twenty years of the artist’s career – post New York – simultaneously teaching at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, exploring and experimenting with new emerging theories of painting, while exhibiting with galleries in New York and other cities and being featured in various museum exhibitions; including the American Federation of Arts Retrospective, “WALTER QUIRT” (1960-1962). It was described by John Dorfman as “…the largest exhibition of the artist’s work since 1980 and the most comprehensive ever at a commercial gallery.” In conjunction with this seminal exhibition, an important catalogue of the same name was being published and is available to interested collectors or institutions, featuring new essays and information largely focusing on Quirt’s last twenty years as a painter. (See EVENTS & EXHIBITIONS Page for updates)
FREDERICK HOLMES AND COMPANY – GALLERY OF MODERN & CONTEMPORARY ART Is Proud To Be The Exclusive National Representative For The Art-Historic Estate of Seminal American Modernist, Walter Quirt. We welcome inquiries from collectors, historians, and public museums.
To Read Recent Art And Antiques Article, THE RETURN OF WALTER QUIRT (November, 2016 Issue)