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Alice Mason

Alice Trumbull Mason (1904–1971) was an American abstract painter. She was descended from renowned history painter John Trumbull through her father. She travelled throughout Europe when she was young. Beginning in 1921, she studied art in Rome, attending the British Academy in 1923. She settled in New York by 1927 and was influenced by early abstract artist Arshile Gorky. She also studied with Charles Webster Hawthorne at the National Academy of Design in New York where she befriended artists Esphyr Slobodkina and Ilya Bolotowsky. While her earlier works were biomorphic or pure abstraction, her knowledge of Byzantine architecture later infused her compositions with an architectural dimension. She continued her studies at the Grand Central Art Galleries until 1931. She later wrote that she became devoted to abstraction in 1929, "[A]fter happily painting these realistic things, I said to myself, 'What do I really know?' I knew the shape of my canvas and the use of my colors and I was completely joyful not to be governed by representing things anymore."

Mason married Warwood Mason, a sea captain, in 1928 or 1930. They had two children. Her daughter Emily Mason (b. 1932) also became an abstract painter. Alice Mason took up poetry and corresponded with Gertrude Stein before resuming her painting in 1934. She first exhibited her work in New York in 1942. Her works received little recognition while she was alive. After the death of her son in 1958, she struggled with depression and alcoholism. She painted her last work in 1969 and died in New York City in 1971. Two years later the Whitney Museum of American Art hosted a retrospective exhibition of her works.
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