Patrick Henry Bruce images and biography
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Patrick Henry Bruce

See also: American Art


"If no other American modernists had to bear such Job-like sufferings as Maurer, still there was always a disagreeable contrast between the liberty and openness of Paris and the hostility of America. Patrick Henry Bruce (1881-1936), a son of decayed Virginian gentlefolk who studied under Chase and then Henri at the New York School of Art, reached Paris in 1904, and entered the Stein circle, attending Matisse's studio classes. (Several other fledgling American modernists did too: Henry Lyman Sayen, Max Weber, and Arthur B. Carles.) His early work, like Still Life (With Tapestry), 1912, became an ambitious effort to combine the faceted structure of Cézanne with the luminous, space-forming color of Matisse. From 1917 on he produced a remarkable series of geometric, abstracted still-lifes, Utopian arrays of cylinders, disks, trapezoids, rods, and beams, mechanically drafted with compass, scale, and french curve. Elegant, frugal, and less ponderous than their nearest French equivalents, they have the crvstal-clear assurance of fine modernist architecture. They were, however, largely ignored. Bruce, once a habitué of the Paris art world, eked out a living dealing in antiques; he withdrew into his shell and gave up painting altogether, destroying much of his own work. In 1936, convinced (rightly, as it happened) that his work would not be understood in his own time, especially by Americans, he killed himself in a New York hotel room."

- From "American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America", by Robert Hughes

Further reading on Patrick Henry Bruce

Patrick Henry Bruce Images

1916 Composition II
c. 1921-22 Painting
c. 1923-24 Peinture/Nature Morte

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