Early Abstract and Modernist Painting

Albert Eugene Gallatin (1881–1952)

Room Space, 1937–38

Oil on canvas, 30 1/4 x 25 3/8 in. (76.8 x 64.5 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.56

A champion of abstract art, Albert Eugene Gallatin belonged to a group of New York City artists dubbed the Park Avenue Cubists, united in their affluence and their advocacy for cubist-inflected abstract painting. A simple arrangement of fields of yellow, blue, brown, and black with superimposed geometric shapes, Room Space is typical of Gallatin’s spare compositions. The artist took up painting seriously in 1936, after many years as an active collector of European modern art. With its combination of vibrant hues and dark neutral tones, the canvas is indebted particularly to Dutch artist Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), whose geometric and abstract paintings feature bright primary colors, and to the achromatic palette favored by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) and Juan Gris (1887–1927). Gallatin dedicated his art, as he did his collecting, to promoting abstraction during a period when figurative art and nationalist sentiment attracted greater critical attention.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.