Like many of his contemporaries, Edward Dugmore came into prominence in the 1950’s. A “painter’s painter”, whose work was held in high respect by those who knew him, Dugmore was an active member of the famous New York School and often spent time with de Kooning, Pollock and Kline at the famed Cedar Tavern.
In 1941 Dugmore studied with Thomas Hart Benton in Kansas City and Benton’s treatment of colors and paints remained an influence in Dugmore’s later works. After his service in the US Marines Edward Dugmore took advantage of the GI Bill and traveled to San Francisco to study with Clyfford Still, a painter who would greatly influence many of Dugmore’s subsequent works. In our exclusive video interview we profile many of Dugmore’s rich compositions that reference landscapes he saw in his travels in Mexico, Colorado and everywhere in between. In this video Loretta Howard, founder and owner of Loretta Howard Gallery in New York talks about Edward Dugmore’s path to becoming a painter, his connection to the San Francisco and New York schools and his relationships with the mega stars of Abstract Expressionism like Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning and the fact that all these artists produced their works during the same time, working with the same underlying theories. And as the prices for Pollock and Rothko paintings keep setting new records, auction after auction, many collectors are now looking at other important abstract painters from that era who have, until now, been overlooked.
Loretta Howard, owner of Loretta Howard Gallery:
Abstract Expressionism’s Post-War palette
There was a sense coming out of World War II that Abstract Expressionist painters felt that their painting had to be very serious and to emote qualities of beauty, or figure, or turmoil. And in doing so they used a lot of black, a lot of dark [paints]. It was in a sense a dark moment, one in which processing hardships of war was very much on everybody’s mind. And if you think of Franz Kline, it is entirely black and white and very fraught, Pollock’s paintings are again very monochrome and with heavy use of black.
[Dugmore] also understands how to contrast color. In fact he uses beautiful touches of red. Most remarkably in the 1959 painting he uses silver, which is possibly unprecedented use of silver that early on. He’s using it, I think, to convey an idea of light. So light and dark are very important.
Education and influences
Edward Dugmore like many Abstract Expressionist painters came into prominence in the 1950s. His schooling was in the 1940s. He studied with Thomas Hart Benton in Kansas City. If you think of Thomas Hart Benton paintings you think of an extraordinary romantic vision of the American landscape. Keep that image in mind as you then project to Dugmore’s abstraction which is equally romantic.
He is very closely lined with Clyfford Still and for good reason. This was a relationship that was to become a life-long relationship, that was very-very important. You have an extraordinary teacher in Still, and an extraordinary student in Dugmore. And that all student-teacher relationships don’t have that kind of lasting quality but this one certainly did. And if one thinks of Clyfford Still’s forms there is certainly energy, tension but they tend to be a little bit more vertically oriented, where is Dugmore who travelled through the United States back and forth many times, spending time in Mexico also, and the Rockies and Aspen where he spent two years in the 1960s.
Edward Dugmore and Clyfford Still
The sense of this horizon line in Dugmore is very important and differentiates him from Still. These are his references, but I think what comes through is the essence of the beauty in the gesture, the touch is beautiful, beautiful paint, just loved it – paint itself and [he knew how to] apply it.
I think we can say that there is spirituality to the work, which he was taking away from his love of nature.
Dugmore is often associated with San Francisco because of course the famous years that he was studying with Clyfford Still in San Francisco. In fact, he was very much a part of the New York art scene. He showed at the famous Staple gallery in the 50s, had three one man shows there and continued to show in New York on a very regular basis and was very much a part of the Abstract Expressionist ‘club’. He was drinking at the Cedar cabin with de Kooning, Klein and Pollock, and was very much a part of that conversation.
Collecting Edward Dugmore’s work
He is what we may call a “painter’s painter” meaning that the painters who know him loved him and respect the work enormously. What is interesting at this juncture is that there are so few great Abstract Expressionist paintings left on the market that are in any way reasonable in terms of price, that now collectors are looking more and more towards those other wonderful painters, like Dugmore, who didn’t necessarily get to the heights of their more famous peers.
This video and article © galleryIntell. Images provided courtesy of the Edward Dugmore Estate, Loretta Howard gallery and galleryIntell. Used with permission.