Jack Tworkov

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Jack Tworkov Painting Example (1978)

Oil on canvas
72 x 72 inches


Jack Tworkov (1900 – 1982)

Artist Jack Tworkov was born in Biala Podlaska, then the Russian Empire. He would become a founding member of the New York School and the Eight Street Club, and one of the most prominent and awarded American artists of the twentieth century. He was also one of the two founders of the Abstract Expressionist Style.

In 1913, when Jack Tworkov was just 13 years old, he moved to the United States with his mother and younger sister. He was a student of English language at Columbia University until 1923, when he graduated. At first, Tworkov wanted to become a writer, but after seeing paintings of the two great artists – Matisse and Cezanne for the first time, he realized he wanted to study art. That same year, Jack became a student of the National Academy of Design along with Ivan Olinsky, and spent his summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts. In 1924, the artist returned to Provincetown to continue his studies, this time with Ross Moffett. There he met Karl Knaths, another lover of the art of Cezanne. Karl Knaths showed him the work of Joan Miro, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. During the years 1925 and 1926 Jack Tworkov was a student of the Art Students League and then in 1928 he obtained his American citizenship and had his art exhibited with the New England Society of Contemporary Art and Provincetown Art Association.

In 1929, he was painting in Provincetown, and also exhibiting paintings in New York with Societe Anonyme. In 1933, he visited Europe for the first time since immigrating to the USA. Upon his return he was accepted as a participant in the Treasury Department’s Public Works of Art Project. During this time he married Rachel Wolodarsky, with whom he had two daughters. Jack Tworkov had his first one-man show at ACA Gallery, New York in 1940. During the 1940s he became friends with Willem de Kooning and the two artists would remain friends for many years. In 1944, he began working with automatic drawings in ink, which was very different from his academic training. During World War II, Jack Tworkov briefly left his profession as an artist and painter and worked as a draftsman. He then returned to creating art and experimenting with abstract painting. By 1947, Jack Tworkov had another one-man show in New York, this time at Charles Egan Gallery.

In the early 1950’s Jack Tworkov creates association with Willem de Kooning and the two artists share their ideas, experiences and an art studio. Ultimately the two form their own Abstract Expressionist Style with their gestural abstract paintings. Their combined studio existed until 1953. Jack Tworkov was also teaching at American University, Washington DC during this same period. In 1958, Jack Tworkov paintings were being exhibited in eight European cities and were included in ‘’The New American Painting’’ exhibits.

In 1962, Jack Tworkov paintings were being exhibited in Galerie de France, along with other famous artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning. In 1963 Jack Tworkov won the Corcoran Gold Medal in Washington, DC. He was also elected chairman at the School of Art and Architecture at Yale University. While there he attracted many famous names to come teach art there – George Wardlaw, Al Held and others. Tworkov also taught many artists that would later become famous names – Chuck Close, Richard Serra and many others. In 1964, Jack Tworkov paintings were being exhibited retrospectively in 6 different major museums. By the end of the sixties, Jack Tworkov abandoned abstract gesture paintings, and started to include geometry in his paintings. In 1969, he became a professor of painting at the Yale University. He continued to teach at various universities later in his life, exhibiting his paintings at the same time both in the U.S. and in Europe.

His later paintings reflect his maturity as an artist and are well known for delicate brush strokes and strong lines. His paintings have been described as both tender and strong at the same time. Jack Tworkov received Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degrees three times during his lifetime. Then in 1974, he also received the Medal for Painting from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Jack Tworkov also received many other awards during the seventies.

Jack Tworkov was present in the world of art in various ways until the very end of his life. He died in September 1982 at his home in Provincetown, Massachusetts.