Charlotte Park

Statement/Biography

CHARLOTTE PARK (1918-2010)

Charlotte Park’s important contribution to the Abstract Expressionist movement during its early years has recently been acknowledged.  Writing in The New York Times, just before Park died in late 2010, Roberta Smith called Park “a natural painter and a gifted colorist,” whose “ascension into the ranks of widely known Abstract Expressionists” was probably too late for her to witness. Overshadowed by the attention given to the work of her husband, James Brooks, Park kept a low profile over the course of her career, while painting some the strongest and most brilliantly colored canvases of her time.  Her art is a strong case against the idea prevalent from the 1950s onward that women were incapable of the muscularity and confidence necessary to be action painters.

Born in Concord, Massachusetts, Park studied from 1935 to 1939 at the Yale School of Fine Art.  She met James Brooks while working at the Office of Strategic Services in Washington, D.C. during World War II.  The two moved to New York City in 1945, where Park studied privately with the Australian artist Wallace Harrison.  Brooks and Park soon became part of the circle of Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner. They rented a studio space that had been occupied by Pollock and joined Pollock and Krasner, along with other young artists working in new styles, in establishing studios on Long Island. They stayed first in Montauk, but after their studio was destroyed by a hurricane in 1954, they moved to a cottage in Springs, East Hampton, which became their full-time residence. 

Park initially worked in a monochrome palette, which liberated her to focus on form.  By the mid-1950s, she reintroduced color into her art, evolving a lyrical style, in which suggestions of the natural world appeared to pulsate with organic life.  By the middle of the decade, she was producing larger canvases with complex compositions and charged relationships of color. She did not shy away from strong contrasts and bold, forthright shapes.  Uniting painting and drawing, she formed a vocabulary featuring clustered loops, black curvilinear forms that both define and liberate, and tensed and sensual anatomical suggestions.   Figurative elements seem to taunt and loom in her art, but are either suppressed or diffused.  In the late 1950s, Park explored collage, concurrently with her contemporaries Krasner and Conrad Marca-Relli.  For these works, she drew passages of color from her earlier paintings, setting them into new contexts.  Later in life, Park was drawn to Piet-Mondrian’s neo-plasticism and created open compositions that conveyed permanence and infinity.

In the 1950s, Park exhibited her work broadly, showing at the Stable Gallery and participating in annuals at the Whitney Museum of American art. Her first solo show was at Tanager Gallery in 1957. In deference to her husband, she withdrew from the art world in the 1960s, only emerging in 1973 when a solo show of her art was held at the Elaine Benson Gallery in Bridgehampton, New York. In the twenty years that followed, she was included in numerous exhibitions on Long Island and in New York City. She was also represented in Seventeen Abstract Artists of East Hampton: The Pollock Years, 1946-1956, held in 1979 at the American Cultural Center of the United States Embassy in Paris. In 2003, Park’s art was featured, along with that of Dan Christensen and Allan Wexler in the exhibition, Three East End Artists, held at the Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, in 2003.  Park’s work is included in the collections of American University, Washington D.C.; Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina; Guild Hall, East Hampton, New York; The Parrish Museum of Art, Water Mill, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.

CV
1918  Born Concord, Massachusetts
1935-39 Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT
2010 Died, East Hampton, NY

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
Tanager Gallery, New York, NY, 1957
The Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY, 1973
The Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY, 1976
Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY, 1979
Ingber Gallery, New York, NY, 1980
Louise Jimelfarb Gallery, (along with James Brooks), Watermill, NY, 1981
Parrish Art Museum, 3 East End Artists (along with Dan Christensen and Allan Wexler) NY, 2002-3.
Spanierman Modern, New York, 2010
Berry Campbell, New York, Charlotte Park (1918-2010), 2016 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS
Peridot Gallery, Invitational Show, New York, NY, 1952
Whitney Museum of American Art, Painting Annual, New York, NY, 1953
Tanager Gallery, Annual Show, New York, NY, 1953
Tanager Gallery, Annual Show, New York, NY , 1954
Stable Gallery, Annual Show, New York, NY, 1954
Hampton Gallery and Workshop, Amagansett, NY , 1954
Guild Hall, 15 Artists of the Region, East Hampton, NY, 1954
Tanager Gallery, Annual Show, New York, NY, 1955
Stable Gallery, Annual Show, New York, NY , 1955
Watkins Gallery of the American University, Washington D.C., 1955
Tanager Gallery, Annual Show, New York, NY, 1956
Stable Gallery, Annual Show, New York, NY, 1956
Camino Gallery, June Salon – 120 Sculptors, Painters, New York, NY, 1956
Stable Gallery, Annual Show, New York, NY, 1957
Signa Gallery, A Review of the Season, East Hampton, NY, 1957
Abstract American Painters, Invitational, New York, NY, 1957
Signa Gallery, Third Exhibition, East Hampton, New York, 1957
Signa Gallery, 8 Painters, East Hampton, NY, 1957
Stable Gallery, Annual Show, New York, NY, 1958
James Gallery, Invitational Annual, New York, NY, 1960
Guild Hall, Festival of the Arts, East Hampton, New York, 1960-61
Gallery North, Seven East Hampton Artists, Setauket, NY, 1965
Alonzo Gallery, His and Hers, New York, NY, 1969
Parrish Art Museum, The Summer Place, Southampton, NY, 1970
Guild Hall, Interaction of Color, East Hampton, NY, 1972
Guild Halll, Young Collectors Gallery, East Hampton, NY, 1970-73
Upstairs Gallery, Group Show, East Hampton, NY, 1974
Landmark Gallery, 1 18 Artists, New York, NY, 1974-74
Guild Hall, Artists of the Hamptons, Paintings, Sculpture, Auction Exhibitions, East Hampton, NY, and Sotheby Park,
Bernet, NY, 1975
Guild Hall, Artists of the Region, East Hampton, NY, 1976
Guild Hall, Points of View, East Hampton, NY, 1977
The Laundry, Three Person Show, East Hampton, NY, 1978
The Laundry, Women at the Laundry, East Hampton, NY, 1979
American Cultural Center of the U.S. Embassy, The Pollock Years, 1946-1956, Paris, France, 1979
Zabrieskie Gallery, Seventeen Abstract Artists of East Hampton, The Pollock Years, 1946-56, New York, NY, 1980
Elaine Benson Gallery, Then and Now: Part 11, Bridgehampton, NY, 1984
Bologna/Landi Gallery, The Hampton Scene: Then and Now, East Hampton, NY, 1984
383 West Broadway, 5 Artists, New York, NY, 1984
Artviews, Celebration: East End Artists, East Hampton, NY, 1985
Ingber Gallery, Guild Hall, Survival of the Fittest, New York, NY, 1985
Guild Hall, East Hampton Star 100th Anniversary Portfolio, East Hampton, NY, 1985
Arbitrage Gallery, Hampton Artists, New York, NY, 1985
Fine Arts Museum of Long Island, Hempstead, NY, 1985
Benton Gallery, Opening Show, Southampton, NY, 1986
Guild Hall, East Hampton Avant Garde – A Salute to the Signa Gallery 1957-1960, East Hampton, NY, 1990
Elston Fine Arts, The New York School – Works on Paper 1950’s – 1960’s, New York, NY, 1991
Sidney Mishkin Gallery, Baruch College, Paths to Discovery, The New York School Works on Paper from the 1950’s & 1960’s,curated by Ellen Russotto, New York, NY, 1992
Renee Fotouhi Gallery, Twentieth Century Prints of the East End, East Hampton, NY, 1992
Stuart Levy Gallery, American Vanguard – Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner & Friends, New York, NY , 1992
Nassau County Museum of Art, Intimates &Confidants in Art: Husbands, Wives, Lovers & Friends, Nassau, NY, 1994
Anita Shapolsky Gallery, Women of the Fifties, New York, NY, 1995
Anita Shapolsky Gallery, Artists of the Fifties, New York, NY , 1995
Anita Shapolsky Gallery, The Fifties, New York, NY, 1995
Arlene Bujese Gallery, A Matter of Synthesis: Collage & Assemblage, East Hampton, NY, 1995
Arlene Bujese Gallery, The Reach of Abstraction, East Hampton, NY, 1995
Ashawagh Hall, Artists of The Springs Invitational Exhibit, East Hampton, NY, 1995
Arlene Bujese Gallery, Abstraction: The Subjective Impulse, East Hampton, NY, 1996
Anita Shapolsky Gallery, Abstract Paintings and Sculpture Part 11, New York, NY, 1996
Arlene Bujese Gallery, Affairs of The Heart, East Hampton, NY, 1997
Ashawagh Hall, Artists of The Springs Invitational Exhibit, East Hampton, NY, 1997
Arlene Bujese Gallery, Wall to Wall, East Hampton, NY, 1997
The Parrish Art Museum, The Centennial Open, Southampton, NY, 1998
Elaine Bensen Gallery, Old Friends, Bridgehampton, NY, 1998
Ashawagh Hall, Artists of the Springs Invitational Exhibit, East Hampton, NY, 1998
Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery, A Winter Group of Artist Couples, New York, NY, 1998
Artsensry Gallery, In Context: An Intimate View; Syd Solomon & His Circle of Friends, Sarasota, FL, 1998
Ashawagh Hall, Artists of the Springs Invitation Exhibit, East Hampton, NY, 2002
Anita Shapolsky Gallery, Women of the 50’s, New York, NY, 2002
Parrish Art Museum, Charlotte Park: Work From the Fifties, Southampton, NY, 2002
Parrish Art Museum, Three East End Artists, Southampton, NY, 2002-3
Spanierman Modern, New York, Hot and Cool Abstractions: 1940s to the Present, 2009
Spanierman Modern, New York, Gallery Selections, 2010
Spanierman Modern, New York, Abstract Expressionism and Its Legacy, 2011
Spanierman Modern, New York, Gallery Selections, 2012
Spanierman Modern, New York, Abstract Strength, 2012
McCormick Gallery, Chicago, Her Work, 2015.
Art Miami, Berry Campbell, 2015.
Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections, 2015
Art Southampton, Berry Campbell, 2015, 2016.
Quidley & Company, Nantucket, Savage Nature: The Importance of Place in Early American Modernism, 2016.
Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections, 2017
Eric Firestone Gallery, East Hampton, New York, Montauk Highway: Postwar Abstraction in the Hamptons, 2017.
Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections, 2018.
Setareh Gallery, Düsseldorf, Germany, A Gesture of Conviction | Women of Abstract Expressionism, 2018 - 2019.
Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina, A Life With Art | Gifts from Dwight and Sue Emanuelson, 2019.
Kasmin Gallery, New York, Painters of the East End, 2019.
Berry Campbell, New York, Summer Selections, 2019.
Art Students League, New York, Postwar Women, 2019.
Berry Campbell, New York, Women of Abstract Expressionism, Inventory Highlights, 2020. [online exhibition]
Berry Campbell, New York, Artist’s Choice: Interconnected, 2020. [online exhibition]
Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York, Affinities for Abstraction: Women Artists on Eastern Long Island, 1950 - 2020.

SELECTED COLLECTIONS
American University, Washington D.C.
Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina
Guild Hall, East Hampton, New York
Mougins Museum of Classical Art, Mougins, France
Parrish Museum of Art, Water Mill, New York
Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia
Whitney Museum of Art, New York
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut