Sidney Gross
1921-1969

Bernard Schiff, later to become curator of the Smithsonian collection, wrote in The New York Post, “of the mature, seasoned and genuine painters … who have been working in the non objective mode for some considerable years, one who strikes me consistently as being of major size and substance is Sidney Gross.”“There is a concentration here of what I must call – paying proper respect to the words – a notable beauty; they are works of heroic force. Gross’ colors are magnificent. It is not a simple question of how they look but what, in a deeper sense, they do to the mind. They activate sensation and emotion; they stimulate thought and beyond that, connection and feeling. It is senseless to attempt in specific language to describe them, since one cannot really speak of the colors by themselves. They are not to be separated from the force of the shapes, symbols, motion and, indeed events which they describe and in their effect are. Gross’ paintings are dramas and sagas of experience and of feeling, descriptions at the moment of the very process of their being.”

 

“These are extravagant words because they are meant to be.  Gross is a superb artist.  His soul and mind and heart are in these works.  This must be how thought, feeling and sensationare at the instant of their becoming and Gross is able to give form and shape and visual materiality to these mysterious processes of the mind.”

Sidney Gross showed early promise as a painter of significance.  He attended the Art Students League on scholarship, and later taught there in the 1960s.  He died at the height of his career.  Unfortunately, unlike many of his contemporaries whose work became more valuable after their deaths, circumstances combined to obscure his work.  He had no children; his first wife died; his wife of a few months donated over 100 paintings to Art Students League, which is not an exhibiting institution; his sister put an equal number in storage; the owner of the long time Rehn Gallery, which had given him almost annual solo exhibits from 1949 to 1969 died leaving no family members to take over the gallery.  His assistant kept it going for a few more years.

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