Theodore Stamos


Stamos was born in New York City in 1922 to parents of Greek ancestry. His first solo exhibition - at age 21 - took place at the Wakefield Bookstore, under the aegis of Betty Parsons. He died in Greece in 1997.
He was the youngest member of the avant-garde group called the "Irascibles", the founding core of The New York School, which included Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, among others. These artists were the first American artists to consciously make a break with the School of Paris in pursuing their own aims for a serious new approach to painting.
Stamos' work has shifted and evolved more dramatically than most of the Abstract Expressionsts. He is in fact one of the first to use both "colorfield" and "gestural" techniques, painting across these lines to the end of his career. He nurtured his deep identification with ancient myths and with the classical philosophy of ancient Greece particularly, and this spirit sustained his work. His exploration of the relationship of nature - in form, scale, coloration, light, and mood - to art was never far from the forefront of his concerns. He shifted his medium from oil to water-based paints, and his painting surfaces became thinner and flatter than those of the earlier works, but without a loss of luminosity and beauty of coloration. They are marked with great attention to not only the apportioning of color to area and shape, but also the layering - or veiling - of color.
In an essay for the catalogue which accompanied a Stamos exhibition at Kouros nearly 20 years ago, the critic and author, Dore Ashton, observed that the relationship between the natural world and the precincts of art was a central concern for Stamos. She discussed the fine particularity with which he responded - visually and emotionally - to the light and coloration of specific localities. These include various landscapes which he grew to know on most intimate terms - the North Fork of Long Island and the island of Lefkada in the Ionian Sea (where he spent his last years), as well as highly distinctive sites, notably Jerusalem and Delphi.
As was true of the great German Romantic painter, Caspar David Friedrich, to whom he dedicated a series of paintings in the 1980’s, Stamos was concerned in his work not only with the division of the visible universe into sea and sky or land and sky, but also - beyond that - the great divide of life and death.
His work is in innumerable public and private collections throughout the world.

Full color catalogue available.