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Vaclav Vytlacil Summer of ’63, Work from Martha’s Vineyard 

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Vaclav Vytlacil Summer of ’63, Work from Martha’s Vineyard
Curated by Vytlacil campus director G. L. Sussman
Comments by League curator Pam Koob

In the Spring of 2010,The New York Times obituary of internationally-acclaimed artist Louise Bourgeois singled out her study with teacher Vaclav Vytlacil, the modernist painter and instructor at The Art Students League.

Vytlacil (1892-1984), born in New York to Czech immigrant parents, studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as at The Art Students League. Vytlacil pursued his interest in modern art in Europe for the better part of 14 years and studied under Hans Hofmann in Munich. A founding member of the American Abstract Artists in 1936, he pushed actively for the recognition of homegrown American abstraction. In 1941, he bought a studio in Chilmark, on Martha’s Vineyard and painted there during the summer throughout his life. He taught at the League from 1946 until his retirement in 1978.

In addition to teaching at the League, “Vyt” taught at the Minneapolis School of Art, University of California at Berkeley, Queens College, and the California College of Arts and Crafts. His works are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Whitney Museum of American Art. He was an early and active supporter of civil rights and environmental causes. New York Times art critic, Howard Devree, ranked Vytlacil alongside Braque, Matisse, Picasso, and Ben Shahn. Vytlacil, he wrote in 1960, "both as teacher and painter, [is] a decided force in contemporary American painting."

Today, Vytlacil's legacy lives on not only in his arresting abstract canvases, but in the work of his students. In addition to Bourgeois, he taught leading artists Robert Blackburn, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Cy Twombly, Knox Martin, Frank O'Cain, and Catherine Redmond.

After Vytlacil’s death, his daughter Anne bequeathed his home, studio and 15 acre property to the League in 1996 which subsequently became the Vytlacil Campus. Vyt's devotion to making and teaching art is carried on through the Vytlacil Campus workshops, critiques and Artist-in-Residence Program, where artists from around the world immerse themselves in the environs and creative spirit of his estate.

Elizabeth V. Sullivan Gallery
at the Art Students League's Vytlacil Campus
241 Kings Highway
P.O. Box 357
Sparkill, NY 10976
845-359-1263

For more information, visit www.theartstudentsleague.org.

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