George L. K. Morris
biography

(1905-1975)

George L. K. Morris devoted his career to avant-garde painting, sculpture, and literature. He graduated from Yale University with a degree in art and literature before studying at the Art Students League in New York. He traveled to Paris in 1929 and 1930, where he viewed the work of Picasso, Braque, Mondrian, and Jean Arp, and embraced abstraction. He studied with Léger and Amédée Ozenfant at the Académie Moderne. By the mid-1930s, his work bore almost no traces of figuration.

Among his extensive network in New York was Albert Eugene Gallatin—a distant cousin—whose substantial collection of modern art became the foundation of the Museum of Living Art at New York University. Gallatin, who had accompanied Morris in Paris, named him a curator of the museum in 1933. Together with Charles B. Shaw and Suzy Frelinghuysen (who married Morris in 1935), they became part of an important small group devoted to advancing abstraction.

Deeply involved in art writing and criticism. Morris made a substantial contribution in his parallel career as a critic. At Yale he had been the editor of the Yale Literary Magazine. When he returned to New York from Paris in 1930, Morris became editor of another literary magazine, The Miscellany; he and Gallatin were also among the founders of the Parisbased journal Plastique. Morris was involved in the creation of the highly influential Partisan Review, served as its editor from 1937 to 1943, and was the first author of its “Art Chronicle” column, later continued by Clement Greenberg and Robert Goldwater.

In 1936 Morris and his wife were among the founding members of the American Abstract Artists, an organization dedicated to promoting abstraction through exhibitions, lectures, publications, and films. Morris served as the president of the organization from 1948 until 1950.

Morris exhibited extensively during his long career. His work can be found in the Flint Institute of Arts, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He died in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in 1975.

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