Early Abstract and Modernist Painting

John Storrs (1885–1956)

Politics, 1931

Oil on canvas, 40 x 40 in. (101.6 x 101.6 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2008.1

A member of the first generation of American modernists, John Storrs developed a style of sculpture characterized by abstraction and geometric simplicity. During the 1930s, Storrs turned to painting, a medium in which he explored nonrepresentational forms based on controlled lines and pure shapes. _Politics _is one such work. Flat, slab-like objects with complex irregular edges are set against a pristine white background. The composition hovers between representation and abstraction, between architectural lines and biomorphic shapes; the profile of a dark gray head on the left imbues the painting with a sense of anxiety. Politics is among the earliest of a group of mostly non-objective paintings Storrs began in 1931. It may comprise his most pointed comment on contemporary affairs, with the shadowy head perhaps representing the profile of populist politicians spewing their hateful rhetoric.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.