(New York, Connecticut)
New York City, New York
- 1929-1932 Studied a the New York Art Students League and at the National Academy of Design under George Bridgeman and Leon Kroll.
- 1933 Assistant to Diego River.
- 1946 Instructor at the University of Texas at Austin
- 1961 Professor, Michigan State University, Lansing, Michigan
- 1958 Silver Medal for Design, Architectural League of New York, New York; 2nd Prize, D.D. Feldman Invitational, Dallas, TX
- 1956 Purchase, The Gulf-Caribbean International, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; 1st Prize, D.D. Feldman Invitational, Dallas, TX
- 1955 Purchase Prize, State Fair of Texas, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, Texas; Feldman Collection Art Award, Dallas, Texas
- 1953 Houston Museum Prize, State Fair of Texas, Houston, Texas
- 1952 First Odom Purchase Prize, Texas Fine Arts Association, Austin, Texas; Houston Museum Prize, State Fair of Texas, Houston, Texas
- 1951 First Prize, Texas Fine Arts Association, Austin, Texas
- 1943 Winner, Artist for Victory War Poster Competition, New York, New York
- 1942 Office of Emergency Management Competition of War Drawings and Paintings, Washington, D.D.
- 1939-42 Three National 1st Prizes for Mural Painting
Late in his career, Fogel explained the aim of his art: "My paintings are not abstract in the pure sense of the word. They verge on the visionary. I paint what I feel and hope it arouses an awareness of a shared experience."
Fogel's work is represented in the collections of major museums.
Selected Collections include:
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- The Whitney Museum of American Art
- The Dallas Museum of Fine Art
- The National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
- The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
- The State Museum of Louisiana, New Orleans, Louisiana
- The Telfair Museum, Savannah, Georgia
1946 Springfield Museum of Art in MO
1946 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
1946 Iowa University
1946 Mortimer Levitt Gallery (solo)
1945 Whitney Museum
1943 Springfield Museum of Art in MO
1942 American Artists for Victory War Poster Exhibition
1941 Social Security Building Competition
1941 Whitney Museum
1940 National Gallery of Canada
1940 Forty-eight States Competition
1940 Whitney Museum
1940 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
1939 World's Fair - one of five artists invited to execute a mural
1939 Corcoran Gallery
1939 Hudson D. Walker Gallery, New York (solo)
Seymour Fogel was born in New York City in August of 1911. He showed an early aptitude for art, winning an industrial arts poster contest at the age of ten. Fogel’s precocity earned him a scholarship to the National Academy of Design, where he studied from 1929 to 1932. There, he studied under renowned artists like Leon Kroll and George Brandt Bridgman. While studying at the National Academy, Fogel also attended classes at the Art Students League, a New York art school was a formative influence on a number of Abstract Expressionists and Pop Artists.
In 1933, Fogel left the Academy; he was dissatisfied with the training he had received, saying later that “when I left my school, I could copy most anything, draw the human figure and paint it, and nothing else. I didn’t know what a painting really was, how to create anything, and my impressionable mind was firmly molded in academic Papier-mâché.” Fogel began his work as a professional artist by working with the famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, who would subsequently become his artistic mentor and friend. In 1933, Rivera was working on the now infamous mural, Man at the Crossroads, at Rockefeller Center and he took Fogel on as an assistant. While working for Rivera, Fogel learned the techniques associated with large-scale mural painting.
By the mid-1930s Fogel was an established member of the New York City art community, working with notables like Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Alexander Brook, Georg Theo Hartman, Arnold Blanch, Adolf Dehn, Phillip Guston, Ben Shahn, and Rico Lebrun. There’s a reason that Ed Walker, chairman of Millikin University’s art department said that Fogel’s “story reads like a ‘who’s who’ in midcentury American art.”
From 1934 to 1941 Fogel was awarded a series of mural commissions by the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration and the Treasury Department's Section of Painting and Sculpture. He completed murals in a variety of locations, including Brooklyn, New York; Safford, Arizona; Cambridge, Minnesota; Washington, D.C. and at the 1939 New York World's Fair.
While traveling across the United States in freight trains to execute commissions for the Federal government, Fogel produced stark drawings of ordinary Americans who had been affected by the Great Depression. These realist works, which owed no small debt to Rivera, have since entered a number of institutional collections, including the National Portrait Gallery, Greenville County Museum of Art, Odgen Museum of Southern Art and Telfair Museum of Art.
In 1946, with the end of the Second World War, as well as the many Federal programs aimed at sustaining the nation’s artists, Fogel moved to Texas. He had accepted a teaching position at the University of Texas at Austin and, upon arriving in the state, became an integral part of its blossoming Modernist movement. Though Fogel was championed by Texas critics and audiences, the art he was producing was different from those of his colleagues. Most Texas Modernists were content to revise Regionalist standbys. Fogel produced work reminiscent of the New York School. He was included in numerous exhibitions during the 1940s and 50s, displaying work at the following:
- 1948 The American Federation of Art, Washington, DC
- 1950 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
- 1955 Architectural League of New York
- 1956 Denver Museum
- 1957 The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York; The Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC; The Art Institute of Chicago
Fogel felt financially secure after his many successes in the 1950s and returned to New York in 1959. He wanted to rejoin the New York art scene. In New York, he continued to produce abstract, non-representational works, infusing his art with a more mystical character. He began to experiment with dramatic colors and distinctive textures, incorporating paraffin, cloth, wood, sand and glass in his paintings. He also began to produce intuitive, transcendentalist work, which he described as “atavistic.” By this he meant that his art represented a purely emotional, intuitive and visceral form of communication. Fogel’s late “atavistic” works are not bounded by a single style or medium. Late in his career, Fogel produced pencil line drawings, newsprint collages, acrylic color flow paintings, conte-crayon woodland drawings, three-dimensional wood constructions and large “sentinel” paintings.
Fogel’s late career work was spent in experimentation and self-exploration. Rather than producing calculated abstractions, he sought to generate art that came from a primitive, inaccessible part of the psyche. Fogel described his process late in his life saying, “I . . . began pursuing the forms wherever they led. Suddenly I realized that I had my answer.”
Fogel’s work was recognized by the New York City art community; he held repeated exhibitions at The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, the Corcoran Gallery, the Carnegie Institute and others. In addition, Fogel was elected to the International Fine Arts Council, the International Institute of Arts & Letters and the Architectural League of New York.
Fogel died in 1984 in his home in Weston, Connecticut.
Seymour Fogel is a figure of undoubted significance to the history of 20th Century American art. A constantly evolving and maturing artist, Fogel was both a gifted social realist painter and an abstract artist who was able to create works of singular intensity and power. Sandra Langer, an art historian and writer for Arts, Criticism, and American Artists wrote of Fogel:
During the heyday of Abstract Expressionism, although out of the limelight, [Fogel] was on the brink of resolving a longstanding problem...He began a determined quest in his own art for a resolution of the conflict between art devoid of the figure and human content, and the language of mystic abstract which became characteristic of his mature work. His was to be a metaphysical and gradual withdrawal from the world of nature into one of cryptograms, which was symbolic of a lifelong search for his own artistic insights. For him, art was an internal convulsion.
That Fogel was able to approach a solution to the central challenge of Abstract Expressionism - how to infuse images devoid of human content with human sensitivities and emotions - is a testament to his accomplishments as an artist.