Vivian Springford

The American abstract painter Vivian Springford (1913-2003) came to prominence in the early 1960s with a debut show of Abstract Expressionist works at the Great Jones Gallery in New York in the fall of 1960, where Springford demonstrated her force of nature and elegance of vision. This exhibition was followed by a show at Preston Gallery in the spring of 1963, revealing the artist’s embrace of both AbEx and the legacy of her experimentation with Chinese calligraphy, which she was introduced to by her studio mate, and lover, the CoBrA artist Walasse Ting. Vivian’s early collectors were Mr. Leon Mnuchin, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Jennings, Mr. and Mrs. Micheal Cross and the influential art critic, Mr. Harold Rosenberg. Like many pioneering women artists of this time, who were without a famous art husband or allegiance to an alliance such as WPA or the like, Vivian’s work was not included in the art historical canon of the time, but was, however, included in selected and notable shows during the 1970s, championing women artists.

We know from the works which are held in her Estate and in private collections, that what the artist did from the 1950s and through the 1980s was to ceaselessly experiment, create and bring forward a stunning and remarkable progression of art making, moving from her early works including figuration, AbEx and calligraphic based expressions and into her bold experimentation with color which eschewed the brush and favored strong bursts of paint and watercolors, saturations and energetic movements on both canvas and paper. Vivian Springford’s work is both groundbreaking, unique and yet also in dialogue with the artists of her time.

Springford's travels to Guatemala, Himalayas, Tanzania, and the Caribbean influenced her work as she began incorporating gestures referencing the landscape. Horizon lines appear, with pigment stains flowing and merging like rivers, oceans, and mountain ranges in colors channeling the sublime. Her work consistently reveals her mastery of color and her form of abstraction, which bursts with an emotional depth and a formidable presence.