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Theodoros Stamos: Allegories of Nature, Organic Abstraction 1945-1949

November 8, 2001 – January 12, 2002

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The Art Newspaper, December 2001

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Allegories of Nature: Organic Abstractions 1945-1949 includes a selection of paintings and large-scale watercolors from Stamos's formative years. An abstract expressionist, Stamos emerged in the 1940s with an interest in nature and Surrealism. Inspired by natural sciences, primitive arts, Eastern philosophies and ancient rituals, he synthesized diverse influences into an expressive, nonrepresentational language emphasizing subtle graduations of color and form.

Theodoros Stamos was born in New York City and began his formal study of art in 1936 with a scholarship to the American Artists School. Encouraged by his teacher, Joseph Solman, Stamos pursued his interest in painting, read surrealist literature and met among others Betty Parsons, who gave him his first solo exhibition in 1943 at the Wakefield Gallery in New York City. Close friends with Tony Smith, John Graham, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Kurt Seligman, Stamos employed the surrealist technique of automatism to create his mystical, biomorphic abstractions. He revered the work of Milton Avery, Arthur Dove and Morris Graves. In 1948, he traveled with poet Robert Price to Europe for the first time, visiting France, Italy and Greece (the birthplace of his parents). Returning to New York City, Stamos began teaching at various institutions

including The Art Students League and in 1953, he presented at The Phillips Collection his famous lecture “Why Nature in Art.” In this theoretical statement, Stamos affirmed his commitment to the exploration of abstraction and questioned: “What is the spirit which guides and expresses the physical world? What is the secret of silence? What is the motive of rhythm? What lies beyond the challenge of my unpainted canvas?” In 1951, Tony Smith designed and built Stamos a home/studio in East Marion, New York, where lived until his death in 1997. A recipient of numerous awards of distinction, Stamos’s work is included in over fifty international museum collections including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1997, the National Gallery and Alexandros Soutzos Museum in Athens, Greece organized a major retrospective featuring paintings and works on paper.