Composition in Yellow and Purple


Composition in Yellow and Purple


Theodore Brenson
American, b. Latvia, 1893–1959


c. 1952


Few artists have had as truly an international experience as Theodore Brenson. After graduating from the University of Riga, in his home country of Latvia, he travelled to the Soviet Union to further his studies at the School of Fine Arts in Petrograd and the University of Moscow. He then moved to Rome, where he worked as a professional artist for seven years, beginning in 1924. He spent most of the 1930s in Paris, assimilating so integrally with that city’s avant-garde that the famed art historian Henri Focillon went so far, in a biography of Brenson, as to claim him for France (explaining, despite the artist’s varied cultural background, “he is bathed in the poetry of Paris”). The start of World War II forced Brenson to relocate yet again, this time to New York, where he settled in 1941.

Although thoroughly familiar with the modernist aesthetic, Brenson’s own work remained surprisingly tied to nature until the late 1940s, when his association with the Abstract Expressionists induced a shift toward a decidedly more nonobjective path. He participated in the New York School’s groundbreaking Ninth Street Show, held during the spring of 1951, and was included in two of the group’s four subsequent efforts at The Stable Gallery. Principally a painter, Brenson’s abstract printmaking relates for the most part to his brief tenure with Atelier 17 in the early 1950s. While Composition in Yellow and Purple bears only the artist’s signature, it earned the date assigned here because of its similarity to other intaglios known to have been executed by Brenson in 1952.


Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, Transfer from The Pennsylvania State University Libraries Print Collection




This image is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. Other uses are not permitted


Etching, engraving, gauffrage, and aquatint; plate: 8-3/4 x 11-13/16 in. (22.3 x 30 cm), sheet: 11-5/16 x 18-1/8 in. (28.8 x 46.2 cm)