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James Daugherty

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James Daugherty
(Asheville, North Carolina, 1887 – 1974, Weston, Connecticut)

James Daugherty was a renowed American painter, muralist, illustrator and author. Born in Asheville, North Carolina, he spent his childhood in Indiana and Ohio. He studied at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C., the Pennsylvania Aacdemy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and from 1905-1907 at the London School of Art in England. Returning to America in 1907, he took up residence in New Jersey and New York City. By 1913 he had begun to respond to new ideas in art, applying a "futurist" style to his drawings and paintings. In 1915 he met Arthur B. Frost, Jr. who occupied an adjoining studio on 14th Street in New York. Frost had studied for seven years in Paris, learning modernist color principles from Matisse and from Robert and Sonia Delaunay. Frost taught these principles to Daugherty, who eagerly adopted these concepts and began his use of bold colors and constrasting interactions. Considered a member of the Synchronist School, Daugherty was one of the first American artists to paint abstract and near-abstract compositions based upon the power of color relationships. Beginning in 1920, Daugherty played an important role as a muralist in America. After creating daring, original modernist murals for Loew's State Theatre in Cleveland and fora Loew's Theatre in Newark (now demolished), Daughterty then painted many public murals under the federal government's New Deal / WPA projects, 1934-1939. He was one of the first to paint large-scale murals in the realist style with American themes and heroic imagery. These murals show Daugherty's strong color sense as well as his command of formal organization, characterization, and draftsmanship. Daugherty's greatest fame in his lifetime was in the field of illustrated books. His virtuoso skills as an artist served him well in the 104 published books which he illustrated or authored. In 1940 he received the John Newbery Medal for his Daniel Boone, selected as the year's most distinguished contribution to American literature fo children, and twice he won Caldecott Honor Medals. Beginning in 1953, Daugherty returned to painting and drawing in a nonobjective abstract style, sometimes reflecting new developments of the postwar "New York School". He is the only notable painter of the first generation of American abstract artists of the era of World War I to have lived long enough to paint along with the generation of Rothko, Pollock, and de Kooning after World War II. Daugherty moved to Weston, CT, from New York City in 1923 and lived there for the rest of his life.

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