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Anne Granick (1911-2006)

  • Anne Granick was born in Pittsburgh. She came to New York City in her early twenties in hopes of finding work as a modern dancer. She was accepted into the Martha Graham Company and danced with the Company for a number of years. However, in 1939, she tore a muscle in her leg and was unable to dance. An artistic person by birth, she borrowed an easel, brushes and oil paints and began painting without any formal training. She taught herself techniques that she wanted to use in her work by studying the artwork of masters who she admired. At the time, she and her husband, Arthur, were friendly with many artists including Mark Rothko, Milton Avery, David Burliuk, Jennings Tofel and Adolph Gotlieb, who occasionally came to the house. They liked her work and encouraged her to continue.

    Anne has two bodies of work, which are quite different. Her pastels, caseins and watercolors were painted while looking at nature. She loved the ocean and whenever she traveled, she would get up early and paint so that she could capture the changing cloud formations and the special light and colors of a sunrise. Most of the ocean scenes were painted in Bar Harbor, Maine, Malibu, California and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The woods also gave her great pleasure. Her caseins show the starkness of the woods in winter, the lush Eastern woods in summer and the colors of fall.

    Anne's oil paintings are often of figures, some existing in this world, and some imaginary. She rarely worked from drawings, but rather her paintings emerged as she built form from color. Her figures often use the movements and forms of dance as a media of expression rather than aiming for realism. Her style of painting evolved through different periods during her 57 years of painting as did her subjects. Driven by her excitement after the first man walked on the moon, she did a series of paintings related to the moon and space aliens. There are also paintings that came from her contact with other cultures.

    Anne Granick in Her Own Words:

    ”Form is a basic element in all types of artistic expression. Form was a part of my life from my first piano lesson at the age of six or so and even more so in my study of dance and choreography.

    Color was important in my painting from the beginning. Used as color patterns and as a part of the larger form, sometimes used to create distance, it was a valuable expressive element.

    Construction was used in different ways. In "Another Part of the Forest" 1970 it is used to separate the area from the rest of the world; in "Labyrinth" it is used more simply.

    As I developed I used brush strokes in various ways: in "Couple" 1974; in "Meditation" 1977 there are small strokes of color building forms and invigorating the painting throughout. In "Headland" 1975 these strokes are used carefully to a point of crystal clarity that brings a fine light to the canvas; in "Sun and Moon" 1974 the short strokes contribute to the atmosphere of twilight as well as lend play to the forms.

    Toward the later years of painting I became interested in the use of white. In "Birth" 1981 white is emphatic and is a driving force throughout the canvas. In "On the Beach" 1984 the white gives a fresh, lively feeling of beach atmosphere, of gulls, waves and of liveliness of the water. In "Still Center 1985 white is used as energy and in an important element in the painting. In "Passage 2" the use of white is more discreet but nevertheless in an expressive element in the painting. In "Winter" 1996 the white as an expanse of snow is naturally white but also as color it is expressive in the painting.

    For a long period we went to Bar Harbor, Maine at least once a year. I always sketched the rocks and the sea. I painted a number of works with these studies in mind: "Sea Cave" 1980; "Main Rocks" 1984; "Denizens of the Rocks" 1985; "Sea and Rocks" 1985; "Rocky Shore" 1993.

    As I look over the titles of my paintings I see that I frequently made a number over a period which adhered to an idea. For instance: "Passage" 1985, a youth passing through life, "Passage" 1987, passage of a bird to another climate, "Passage" 1987, passage into death. In another group: "Prophet 1" 1990, a woman with a scroll, "Prophet 2", a nude woman at the side of a fiver, "Prophet 3" another woman prophet. Then there are the moon paintings: "Moon" 1981; "Moon Fancy" 1976; "Sun and Moon" 1974; "Moonlight" 1964; "Other Side of the Moon" 1980.

    There are also paintings that seem to be from different cultures: "Witches and Shaman"; "Royal Couple" 1965; "Mithuna" 1970; "Mithuna" 1971; "Mithuna" 1950; also "Prometheus" 1960 and "Young Apollo". Later there are Space paintings: "Space Hero" and "Journey into Space".

    At times my travels engendered a strong reaction and I painted something relevant. "Presences" 1980 after a visit to Mayan structures in Mexico. I painted modern figures super imposed or emerging from ancient Mayan images. "Conclave Route 12", a painting of a large sculpture along the road in Utah and "Fjord, Newfoundland" were also in this category.

    All the time I was working with oil paints under the signature AMG, I was doing mostly pastels but also caseins, watercolors, ink and a few crayons signed, A Marcus G. Unlike the oils which were painted without preliminary drawing or design and completely from imagination the other media works were done while looking at nature, an entirely different, immensely enjoyable activity. Many were done while in beautiful areas in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Malibu, California or other places that I frequented. These were done without reference to my oil paintings.

    I would often get up before dawn to catch the unusual and constantly changing cloud formations and the special light over the ocean particularly in Puerto Rico. Many of these works are loosely painted, some just a scrap of sky and water, nevertheless expansive. Others, in spite of the haste with which they must be achieved, are more studies and are some of my finest pastels.

    Techniques in watercolor vary. In some the paint is laid down as a wash, in others they are done with the tip of the brush in filigree or as a drawing.

    The bulk of the paper work consists of landscapes and seascapes. There are occasional flower studies, rarely some buildings: in Assisi, Italy, in Venice, in Quebec, Canada and in New York as seen from my window in Weehawken, New Jersey. There is a pad of pastel portraits using myself as a model but not meant to be self-portraits. Flamingos and black swans unwittingly posed for me in a pond at the back of the hotel.”
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