Abstract Painters

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Abstract art reflects a departure from reality in depiction of imagery in art. Artistic independence for artists was advanced during the 19th century, resulting in the creation of a new art form by the likes of James McNeill Whistler who was a leading proponent of the credo "art for art's sake". He placed greater emphasis on visual sensation than the depiction of objects, as did John Constable, J M W Turner, and Camille Corot. Spanish painter Pablo Picasso was a major proponent of the abstract art form and contributed immensely to the development of the genre. He is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century. Russian painter and art theorist Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky is credited with painting one of the first purely abstract works. Dutch painter Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondriaan evolved a non-representational form which he termed neoplasticism, and became a major contributor to the De Stijl art movement. Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cézanne also had an enormous impact on the development of the genre and led to the advent of 20th-century abstraction. This section provides you information about the life and works of famous abstract painters.
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 1 
Jackson Pollock
(American Abstract Expressionist Artist Known for His ‘Drip Technique’ Work)
Jackson Pollock
6
Birthdate: January 28, 1912
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cody, Wyoming, United States
Died: August 11, 1956
Abstract Expressionist artist Jackson Pollock pioneered the drip technique or action painting, which involved moving his whole body to paint on a horizontal surface. Unfortunately, he struggled with alcoholism and died in a car accident, while drunk driving. He inspired a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography and the 2000 film Pollock.
 2 
Wassily Kandinsky
(Russian Painter, Art Theorist and a Pioneer in Abstract Art)
Wassily Kandinsky
9
Birthdate: December 16, 1866
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: December 13, 1944
Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky is considered the pioneer of abstract art. Known for notable works such as On White II and Study for Improvisation, he was a prominent artist of the Blue Rider Period and experimented with expressionism. He also earned a professorship at the University of Dorpat
 3 
Piet Mondrian
(One of the Greatest Artists of the 20th Century)
Piet Mondrian
4
Birthdate: 1872
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Amersfoort, Netherlands
Died: January 31, 1944

Dutch painter Piet Mondrian is remembered for pioneering what is known as 20th-century abstract art. He co-founded the De Stijl art movement with Theo van Doesburg and gave rise to Neoplasticism. His art was influenced by Cubism. Many of his paintings consist of geometric shapes in particular sets of colors.

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 4 
Mark Rothko
(American Painter Known or His Abstract Expressionism and Color Field Paintings)
Mark Rothko
6
Birthdate: September 25, 1903
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Daugavpils, Latvia
Died: February 25, 1970

Considered part of the New York school of painters of the 1940s, Mark Rothko was best known for his signature color field paintings, consisting of vertically set rectangular patches of color. A significant figure of the Abstract Expressionist movement, he also experimented with murals and mythological themes.

 5 
Robert De Niro Sr.
(Abstract Expressionist Painter & Father of Robert De Niro)
Robert De Niro Sr.
4
Birthdate: May 3, 1922
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Syracuse, New York, United States
Died: May 3, 1993
Robert De Niro Sr. was an American abstract expressionist artist best known as the father of the famous actor Robert De Niro. De Niro Sr. exhibited his paintings in museums and galleries across the United States of America. He also taught at several art schools including the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture.  
 6 
Roy Lichtenstein
(American Pop Artist Who Became a Major Figure in the New Art Movement During the 1960s)
Roy Lichtenstein
13
Birthdate: October 27, 1923
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Died: September 29, 1997
Roy Lichtenstein was an American pop artist who became a major figure in the new art movement during the 1960s alongside artists like Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist. Among his most famous works are Drowning Girl and Whaam! Roy Lichtenstein was honored with the prestigious National Medal of the Arts in 1995.
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 7 
Lee Krasner
(American Abstract Expressionist Painter Who Specialized in Collage)
Lee Krasner
5
Birthdate: October 27, 1908
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: June 19, 1984
Lee Krasner was an American abstract expressionist artist who specialized in collage. She is credited with influencing the artwork of her husband, Jackson Pollock. The Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective exhibition of Lee Krasner's work six months after her demise, making her one of the few female artists to have achieved such an honor.
 8 
Joseph Beuys
(German Abstract Painter and Founder of a Provocative Art Movement Known as 'Fluxus')
Joseph Beuys
3
Birthdate: May 12, 1921
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Krefeld, Germany
Died: January 23, 1986

It is believed Joseph Beuys was rescued by Tartars when his air force plane broke down in Crimea during World War II. He later gained fame as an avant-garde sculptor and artist and part of the group Fluxus. His works used unconventional media, with some even including staged actions.

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 9 
Gerhard Richter
(Top-selling photo-painter and abstract artist whose best-known works included "Atlas" and "Baader-Meinhof.")
Gerhard Richter
3
Birthdate: February 9, 1932
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany

German visual artist Gerhard Richter started out as a Social Realist painter and was later exposed to avant-garde art. He mastered the art of painting scenes collected from newspapers and magazines, including terrorists and serial killer victims. He later also worked on stained-glass design and abstract art.

 10 
Arshile Gorky
(A Leading American Painter of 20th Century and a Founding Father of 'Abstract Expressionism')
Arshile Gorky
3
Birthdate: April 15, 1904
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Khorgom, Vilayet of Van, Ottoman Empire
Died: July 21, 1948

Arshile Gorky, a powerful Armenian-American painter of 20th century, is counted among founding fathers of abstract expressionism. His experience, suffering and loss during Armenian genocide strongly influenced his development as an artist. With notable works like Landscape in the Manner of Cézanne and Nighttime, Enigma, Nostalgia, Gorky emerged as one of the major artists whose works defined American abstract expressionism.

 11 
Willem de Kooning
(Dutch-Born American Abstract Expressionist Artist)
Willem de Kooning
9
Birthdate: April 24, 1904
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: March 19, 1997
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch-American artist and one of the most famous practitioners of abstract expressionism of his generation. One of the 20th century's best-known artists, de Kooning is noted for paintings, such as Woman III (1953) and Interchange (1955). Many of his paintings have been sold for record prices.
 12 
Sophie Taeuber-Arp
(Swiss Artist, Textile Designer, and Sculptor Whose Multimedia Works Bridged the Gap Between Fine and Applied Arts)
Sophie Taeuber-Arp
3
Birthdate: January 19, 1889
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Davos, Switzerland
Died: January 13, 1943

Swiss-French artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp initially studied textile design and later began creating multimedia art called Duo-Collages, along with her husband, German-French abstract artist Jean Arp. Apart from teaching at an art and craft school, the Dadaist had also used dance, painting, and sculpture to showcase her artistic talent.

 13 
Josef Albers
(Artist and Educator Best Known for His Work as an Abstract Painter and a Theorist)
Josef Albers
3
Birthdate: March 19, 1888
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bottrop, Germany
Died: March 25, 1976
German-born painter, artist, and art teacher Josef Albers initially experimented with colored-glass art, furniture design, and metal art, and later pioneered innovative styles of art such as Color Field painting and Op art. His best-known work, Homage to the Square, consists of a series of superimposed squares.
 14 
Milo Moire
(Performance artist)
Milo Moire
3
Birthdate: May 7, 1983
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Switzerland

Though a qualified psychologist, Milo Moire is more popular as a porn actor and a performance artist who uses the female form for her art pieces. From creating abstract art by throwing out paint-filled eggs from her vagina, to walking around cities, asking passers-by to touch her breasts, she has done it all.

 15 
Robert Motherwell
(American Abstract Expressionist Painter and Printmaker)
Robert Motherwell
3
Birthdate: January 24, 1915
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Aberdeen
Died: July 16, 1991

American abstract expressionist painter, printmaker and editor Robert Motherwell of the New York School is counted among the most articulate spokesmen of abstract expressionism and founders of the art movement. Notable works of Motherwell, who was known for exploring political, philosophical and literary themes, include the Elegy to the Spanish Republic series that consists of impressive black and white paintings.

 16 
Francis Picabia
(French Avant-Garde Painter and Poet Who was One of the Early Major Figures of the 'Dada Movement')
Francis Picabia
7
Birthdate: January 22, 1879
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 30, 1953
Francis Picabia was a French avant-garde painter, typographist, and poet. He is best remembered for his highly abstract planar compositions, which are rich in contrasts. One of the most influential figures of the Dada movement, Francis Picabia helped popularize Dadaism in France and in the United States of America. 
 17 
Franz Kline
(Abstract Expressionist Artist)
Franz Kline
5
Birthdate: May 23, 1910
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: May 13, 1962

Franz Kline of the New York School is counted among the most significant artists of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Labelled as an action painter, Kline’s etched a niche with his seemingly spontaneous and intense style that focused more on actual brushstrokes and use of canvas instead on figures or imagery as exemplified in his masterpiece, Number 2 (1954).

 18 
Philip Guston
(Painter and Printmaker Whose Work Bridged the Gap Between Abstract Expressionism and Neo-Expressionism)
Philip Guston
3
Birthdate: June 27, 1913
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada
Died: June 7, 1980
 19 
Johannes Itten
(Swiss Expressionist Painter & Designer Known for His Work 'Farbkreis')
Johannes Itten
3
Birthdate: November 11, 1888
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Südern-Linden, Switzerland
Died: March 25, 1967

Swiss expressionist painter Johannes Itten developed his own color theories. Before joining the German art school Bauhaus, he had received elementary school teachers’ training. He often skipped correcting his students’ mistakes, fearing it might spoil their creative impulse. He followed the neo-Zoroastrian fire cult Mazdaznan and practiced meditation and vegetarianism.

 20 
Theo van Doesburg
(Dutch Artist Best Known as the Founder and Leader of 'De Stijl')
Theo van Doesburg
3
Birthdate: August 30, 1883
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Utrecht, Netherlands
Died: March 7, 1931

One of the pioneering figures of the Dutch art movement De Stijl, or The Style, Theo van Doesburg stressed on the importance of simplified and geometric visual arts. The son of a photographer, he grew up to create scores of abstract paintings and designed aesthetic room décor and furniture, too.

 21 
Hans Hofmann
(American Painter Known for His Role in the Development of Abstract Expressionism)
Hans Hofmann
3
Birthdate: March 21, 1880
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Weissenburg in Bayern, Germany
Died: February 17, 1966

Mostly hailed as an influential art teacher, Hans Hofmann was also a great artist and a pioneer in the use of improvisatory techniques. Born in Germany, he migrated to USA after Nazis came to power. There he opened his own school and moving away from Expressionistic landscapes developed totally an abstract manner, paving the way for Abstract Expressionism.

 22 
Jean Arp
(German-French-Sculptor Best Known for His Biomorphic Sculptures)
Jean Arp
2
Birthdate: September 16, 1886
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France
Died: June 7, 1966

Jean Arp was born in Strasbourg, to a German father and a French mother. After studying art in Paris and Switzerland, he co-created The Modern Alliance and participated in the Dada and Abstraction-Création movements. An avant-garde painter and sculptor, he also experimented with media such as embroidery.

 23 
Elaine de Kooning
(Distinguished Landscape and Portrait Artist)
Elaine de Kooning
5
Birthdate: March 12, 1918
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: February 1, 1989

Elaine de Kooning, an accomplished landscape and portrait artist, remained active in Abstract Expressionist and Figurative Expressionist movements during post-Second World War era. Elaine admired artwork of Dutch-American abstract expressionist artist Willem de Kooning, her future husband, and honed her skills under his tutelage. Figure served as subject of representational portraiture for Elaine, who was perhaps best-known for her portraits.

 24 
František Kupka
3
Birthdate: September 23, 1871
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Opočno, Czech Republic
Died: June 24, 1957
 25 
Carmen Herrera
(American Abstract Painter, Minimalist Visual Artist and Painter)
Carmen Herrera
3
Birthdate: May 31, 1915
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Havana, Cuba
Died: February 12, 2022

Born to journalist parents, who were both part of the Cuban intellectual sphere, Carmen Herrera received elite art education in Paris. The political unrest in Cuba forced her to leave her architecture studies incomplete and move to the U.S. She later established herself as a master painter of abstract art.

Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid
3
Birthdate: January 7, 1901
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Büyükada, Turkey
Died: September 5, 1991
 27 
Larry Rivers
(American Artist, Filmmaker and Musician Who is Regarded as the Godfather of Pop Art)
Larry Rivers
2
Birthdate: August 17, 1923
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States
Died: August 14, 2002
Larry Rivers was an American artist, filmmaker, musician, and occasional actor. Widely regarded as the godfather of pop art, Rivers pioneered the merging of non-narrative and non-objective art with objective and narrative abstraction. In 2002, the Corcoran Gallery of Art held a retrospective exhibition of Larry Rivers' work.            
 28 
Nicolas de Stael
4
Birthdate: January 5, 1914
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: March 16, 1955

Nicolas de Stael was a Russian-born French painter best remembered for his highly abstract landscape painting. He traveled throughout Europe, living and working in places like Paris. Nicolas de Stael suffered from depression, insomnia, and exhaustion throughout his career. He committed suicide by jumping off from his studio terrace at the age of 41.

 29 
Pierre Soulages
(French Abstract Painter Renowned as the 'World's Greatest Living Artist')
Pierre Soulages
5
Birthdate: December 24, 1919
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rodez, France

Pierre Soulages is a French painter, sculptor, and engraver. His works have influenced several prominent personalities like François Hollande, who called him the greatest living artist in the world, in 2014. Over the course of his illustrious career, Pierre Soulages has won several prestigious awards like Carnegie Prize, Rembrandt Award, and the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art.

 30 
Kenneth Noland
(American Painter Best Known For His Color Field Paintings)
Kenneth Noland
2
Birthdate: April 10, 1924
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Asheville, North Carolina, U.S.
Died: January 5, 2010
Kenneth Noland was an American painter best remembered for his color field paintings. He is credited with establishing an art movement called the Washington Color School. Kenneth Noland's artworks influenced Alexander Julian's coloring and designs in his knitwear.          
 31 
Simon Hantaï
(Hungarian-Born French Artist Who Invented the Pliage Technique of Folded Canvas Art)
Simon Hantaï
4
Birthdate: December 7, 1922
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Biatorbágy, Hungary
Died: September 12, 2008

Hungarian-born French artist Simon Hantaï is remembered for his kaleidoscopic abstract paintings and pioneered the pliage technique of creating art with folded canvases. He studied art in Budapest and then moved to France. His best-known works include the Meuns series, Tabulas, and Laissées. He became mostly a recluse after the 1982 Venice Biennale.

 32 
Ray Eames
(American Designer and Artist)
Ray Eames
2
Birthdate: December 15, 1912
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sacramento, California, United States
Died: August 12, 1988
Ray Eames was an American designer and artist who made pioneering contributions in the fields of graphic design, architecture, film, and textile design. She is best remembered for establishing the Eames Office along with her husband Charles Eames. Ray and Charles Eames are regarded as one of the most influential and popular designers of the 20th century.
 33 
Mark Tobey
(American Painter and Founder of the 'Northwest School')
Mark Tobey
2
Birthdate: December 11, 1890
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Centerville, Wisconsin, United States
Died: April 24, 1976
Mark Tobey was an American painter whose densely structured compositions resemble Abstract expressionism. Widely recognized throughout Europe and the USA, Tobey is credited with founding the Northwest School. Over the course of his illustrious career, Mark Tobey was honored with several prestigious awards, including the Guggenheim International Award in 1956. 
 34 
Adolph Gottlieb
(American Sculptor, Printmaker, and Abstract Expressionist Painter)
Adolph Gottlieb
2
Birthdate: March 14, 1903
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: March 4, 1974
Adolph Gottlieb was an American sculptor, printmaker, and abstract expressionist painter. He is credited with designing and supervising the construction of a large stained glass façade in 1954 for New York City's Milton Steinberg Center. Adolph Gottlieb was the first American artist to be honored with Brazil's Gran Premio of the São Paulo Bienale in 1963. 
 35 
Arthur Dove
(The First Abstract Painter from America)
Arthur Dove
2
Birthdate: August 2, 1880
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Canandaigua, New York, United States
Died: November 23, 1946
Arthur Dove was an American artist who is widely regarded as the first abstract painter from America. He is best remembered for using unconventional combinations to create his abstractions. Among his best known works is Me and the Moon, which is a fine example of his abstract landscape.
 36 
Patrick Heron
2
Birthdate: January 30, 1920
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Headingley, England
Died: March 20, 1999
 37 
Grace Hartigan
(American Painter Who Helped Popularize Abstract Expressionism During the 1950s and 1960s)
Grace Hartigan
2
Birthdate: March 28, 1922
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States
Died: November 15, 2008
Grace Hartigan was an American painter. An important member of the New York School, Hartigan helped popularize abstract expressionism during the 1950s and 1960s. Today, many of her paintings are displayed in institutions and museums like the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Grace Hartigan is credited with influencing numerous young artists.
 38 
Hans Hartung
(German-French Painter Best Known For His Gestural Abstract Style)
Hans Hartung
2
Birthdate: September 21, 1904
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: December 7, 1989
Hans Hartung was a German-French painter best remembered for his gestural abstract style. He achieved popularity in the late 1950s and received the International Grand Prix for painting in 1960 at the Venice Biennale. Hans Hartung's abstract paintings influenced and inspired many younger American painters, making him a prominent predecessor of American Lyrical Abstraction of the '60s and '70s.
 39 
Jacques Villon
(French Painter Who Is Remembered for His Cubist and Abstract Paintings)
Jacques Villon
2
Birthdate: July 31, 1875
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Damville, Mesnils-sur-Iton, France
Died: June 9, 1963

French painter Gaston Duchamp, known by his pseudonym, Jacques Villon, is remembered for his Cubist and abstract paintings. Initially a law student, he quit law and switched to art soon. He worked making prints and posters for a decade. He later created masterpieces displaying his sense of colors and geometry.

 40 
Terry Frost
(Artist)
Terry Frost
1
Birthdate: October 13, 1915
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Royal Leamington Spa, England
Died: September 1, 2003
Maria Helena Vieira da Silva
2
Birthdate: June 13, 1908
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal
Died: March 6, 1992
 42 
Paul-Émile Borduas
(Canadian Artist Known for His Abstract Paintings)
Paul-Émile Borduas
1
Birthdate: November 1, 1905
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Canada
Died: February 22, 1960

Canadian painter Paul-Émile Borduas is best remembered as a founder-member of the radical abstract group Les Automatistes, which focused on automatism, influenced by surrealism. Initially a church decorator in Montreal, he later studied art in Paris. He was later ostracized for releasing the social critique Refus Global.

 43 
Paul Jenkins
(One of the Distinguished Painters Whose Work Defined American Abstract Expressionism)
Paul Jenkins
3
Birthdate: July 12, 1923
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Died: June 9, 2012

American abstract expressionist painter Paul Jenkins, who at times called himself "an abstract phenomenist", initially created his works in oil on canvas and later moved away to acrylic. He started using an ivory knife as a main tool in creating his artwork. Besides paintings, Jenkins also created solid and unique sculptures made out of glass, limestone, steel and bronze.    

 44 
Stanton Macdonald-Wright
(Co-founder of the ‘Synchromism’ Art Movement)
Stanton Macdonald-Wright
1
Birthdate: July 8, 1890
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
Died: August 22, 1973

Modern American artist Stanton Macdonald-Wright is best-known for co-founding the Synchromism art-movement with fellow American artist Morgan Russell in 1912, while the two were studying in Paris. They developed it with the belief that painting was a practice similar to music and even though it was short-lived, Synchromism emerged as the first American avant-garde art movement that garnered international attention.

 45 
Manuel Felguerez
1
Birthdate: December 12, 1928
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Valparaíso, Mexico
Died: June 8, 2020

Manuel Felguérez was a Mexican artist whose works are still being displayed across Mexico. One of the most important members of the Generación de la Ruptura, Felguérez was honored with the prestigious Premio Nacional de Artes in 1988. A multi-talented person, Felguérez was also a sculptor and teacher; he worked as a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

 46 
Stanley William Hayter
1
Birthdate: December 27, 1901
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hackney, London, England
Died: May 4, 1988
 47 
Jane Freilicher
(American Painter Who Belonged to the Representational Movement)
Jane Freilicher
1
Birthdate: November 19, 1924
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: December 9, 2014

While she initially focused on Abstract Expressionism, American painter Jane Freilicher later switched her focus to still lifes, especially of flowers. Known as a pioneer of painterly realism, she is known for her iconic works such as Bouquets. She was part of the New York School and the Representational movement.

 48 
Jean Hélion
(French Painter Who Began His Career with Abstract Painting Before Switching to Figurative Art)
Jean Hélion
1
Birthdate: April 21, 1904
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Couterne, Rives-d'Andaine, France
Died: October 27, 1987

French painter Jean Hélion began his artistic career as an abstract painter but later switched to figurative painting. An architect, he began painting in his spare time and soon co-founded an association of abstract painters, Abstraction-Création. He fought for the French army in World War II and also penned a memoir in captivity.

 49 
Vasudeo S. Gaitonde
(One of India’s Foremost Abstract Painter)
Vasudeo S. Gaitonde
1
Birthdate: 1924 AD
Birthplace: Nagpur, India
Died: August 10, 2001

Vasudeo S. Gaitonde is remembered as one of the most significant modern abstract painters from India. The Padma Shri winner was born to working-class Goan parents in Nagpur. He won an art scholarship at 19 and never looked back. His works are said to have been influenced by calligraphy.

 50 
I. Rice Pereira
(American Abstract Painter and Poet)
I. Rice Pereira
1
Birthdate: August 5, 1902
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chelsea, Massachusetts, United States
Died: January 11, 1971

Initially a stenographer, American painter I. Rice Pereira later established herself as a prominent name in abstract painting. A major pillar of the Bauhaus movement, she was well-acquainted with many painters and authors and even wrote extensively on topics such as space and time.