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Lee Gatch

Painter
Born September 10, 1902, Baltimore, Maryland
Died November 10, 1968, Lambertville, New Jersey

"For me art should not be too cerebral. It is for rejoicing. As long as it bears the stamp of personality, that it communicates, and the over-all image is an aesthetic entity, I will have fulfilled the eternal plea, 'Art for Heaven's Sake.'"
Lee Gatch


Described by the New York Times as one of the best landscapists of his day, Gatch depicted nature in lyrical, abstract terms. He was born near Baltimore to a family of contractors and engineers who opposed his artistic ambitions. In spite of their disapproval, Gatch traveled to Europe to study art in 1925. Upon his return, he could not sell much of his work, perhaps because in his determination to follow his own vision, he shunned all contemporary movements. Before establishing himself as an artist in the late 1940s, Gatch painted murals for the WPA during the depression. Much of the success he ultimately achieved was due to the support of his wife, the artist Elsie Driggs, who encouraged him to work in spite of his alcoholism. A leading colorist, Gatch painted with a richly diverse palette of sensual, brilliant colors. Influenced by French cubism, Gatch's early paintings were loosely figurative, though his work grew progressively more abstract. Intrigued by texture, Gatch worked increasingly with mixed media, creating collages that blended paint with textiles or stone.

Image: Lee Gatch at National Academy of Design, 1967, photo by Peggy Lewis, James A. Michener Art Museum library


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