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collections > permanent collection > paintings >BRIAN CONNELLY
Brian Connelly
(American, 1926-1963)
The Spectrum, a Painting in Four Acts,  1952
Casein on board, 37 1/4" x 41 1/2"
SAMA purchase (79.002)


Brian Connelly’s work falls under the heading of “Magic Realism,” a strain in Realist painting that emphasizes illusion, fantasy, and the imagination.  The Spectrum, a Painting in Four Acts and The Gates of Paradise, both in the Museum’s collection, constitute the artist’s most ambitious work and reflect his enthusiasm for the Flemish Old Masters of the fifteenth century.  In The Spectrum, Connelly utilizes a Gothic interior that recalls the settings of many Renaissance-era compositions.  Painted on several folding panels, The Spectrum explores the emotional effects of different colors and times of day.  To Connelly, the objects depicted in each panel most represent the dominant color of that panel.  The Spectrum took over a year to conceptualize and four months to paint.


Connelly was born in Rosebud, Oregon, in 1926.  Evincing considerable talent early on, he became a professional artist at age fourteen.  Moving to New York City in 1946, he studied briefly at the Art Students League of New York and also in Europe.  He staged his first show at the American-British Art Gallery in 1950, and in 1952, The Spectrum won the Popular Prize of the Carnegie International Exhibition.  After making a trip around the world in 1952-1953, Connelly settled in Wilton, Connecticut, where he worked until succumbing to Bright’s disease in 1963.