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collections > permanent collection > paintings >WILLIAM BAZIOTES
William Baziotes
(American, 1912-1963)
Untitled, n.d., c. 1946
Gouache on board, 15 7/8" x 19 1/2"
Gift of St. Francis College, Loretto (74.012)


William Baziotes was among the first Abstract Expressionists, and is considered a major figure alongside Adolph Gottlieb, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and other members of the early New York School.  Unlike most of his contemporaries, however, Baziotes maintained a figurative element in much of his work.  Yet his subjects are tantalizingly elusive, despite their references to volume and space.  The muted, dreamlike quality of the Museum’s untitled composition of 1946 (see image on page XXX) is suggestive of interiority and the Unconscious, key elements of Surrealism that were enthusiastically adopted by the first generation of Abstract Expressionists.  Cubism informs Baziotes’ work as well, and its influence is easily detected in the flat, faceted planes seen in Untitled and other 1940s works. 


Baziotes was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania.  After studying art at the National Academy of Design in New York, he worked under the auspices of the WPA through 1941.  His first one-person show, held at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery, debuted three years later.  Baziotes emerged as a highly influential member of the Abstract Expressionist group, and together with David Hare, Robert Motherwell, and Mark Rothko, he founded the Subjects of the Artists School in New York.  Teaching remained a central element of the artist’s career, and in the years before his death, he served as instructor at several New York colleges, universities, and museum art schools.  Baziotes died in 1963, and was subsequently honored with a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum.