William Baziotes  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

William Baziotes (June 11, 1912 – June 6, 1963) was an American painter influenced by Surrealism and was a contributor to Abstract Expressionism.

Life and career

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Greek parents Angelos and Stella, Baziotes began his formal art training in 1933 at the National Academy of Design in New York City where he graduated in 1936. He studied with Charles Curran, Ivan Olinsky, Gifford Beal, and Leon Kroll. Baziotes taught through the Federal Art Project in from 1936-1938 and worked on their WPA Easel Project from 1938-1940.

In the 1940s he became friends with many artists in the emerging Abstract Expressionist group. Although he shared the groups' interest in primitive art and automatism, his work was more in line with European surrealism Later in his career he taught extensively. His first solo exhibition was at Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century Gallery in 1944. With David Hare, Robert Motherwell, and Mark Rothko, Baziotes founded the Subjects of the Artist School in New York in 1948. He also taught at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, People's Art Center, the Museum of Modern Art, and at the City University of New York, Hunter College and New York University in Manhattan during the last ten years of his life.

Baziotes and his wife Ethel, whom he married in 1941, lived in the Morningside Heights area of northern Manhattan until his death from cancer in June 1963, aged 50. During his lifetime, he and his wife shared a love of ancient Greek art and sculpture as well as the poetry of Charles Baudelaire. Many of his paintings are inspired by the latter's poetry as well as by ancient art.

Some of his famous works are Aquatic, Dusk, and The Room, all of which are in the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

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