Walter Plate, East End Abstractions

  • EAST HAMPTON, New York
  • /
  • October 10, 2019

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Walter Plate (1925-1972) Beach Music, 1971. Oil on canvas. 48 x 60 inches. signed upper left.
Levis Fine Art

"He had brought back from Paris a love of Collage. It was the Collage-Cubist structure that underlay his paintings and kept them close to a classic format. Cubism had left its pose on him; Abstract Expressionism freed him."

—Excerpted from an essay by Herman Cherry for the Walter Plate memorial exhibition, Woodstock Artists Association, March 1984

The exhibition "Walter Plate, East End Abstractions" is on view now through October 31, 2019, at the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, East Hampton, NY. 

Abstract expressionist artist Walter Plate (1925-1972) served in the military during World War II. He continued his art studies on the G.I. Bill in Paris and at the Art Students League summer school in Woodstock, New York, where he moved in 1951 and became a close friend of Herman Cherry and Philip Guston. He achieved early recognition, with work included in five Whitney Annuals in the 1950s and the Gold Medal at the Corcoran Biennial in 1959.

As a rising star among the younger generation of abstract expressionists, Plate's gestural canvases were also shown at the Chicago Art Institute, The Detroit Institute of Arts, the Pennsylvania Academy and the 1955 Pittsburgh International Exhibition, and were reproduced in ART/USA/NOW in 1963. His career was cut short by his untimely death at age 47.

Walter Plate (1925-1972) The Sunbather, 1968. Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 inches. Signed on reverse.
Levis Fine Art

Plate spent his last years on eastern Long Island, where he painted subjective evocations of the maritime environment, returning to a theme that had been praised early in his career. In 1954, while he was living and working in a wooded area far from the coast, a reviewer of his solo exhibition at the Ganso Gallery declared that “Plate’s forte in his first New York show is clearly the seascape.” The current exhibition comprises beach paintings of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which combine abstract and figurative elements in open, light-drenched compositions. 

The show is organized by Helen A. Harrison, Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Director at Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center. The exhibition and catalog (with essay by Marc Plate) are supported by the Pollock-Krasner Endowment and the Research Foundation, Stony Brook University. The estate of Walter Plate (with works on loan for this show) is represented by Levis Fine Art, New York.

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