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 50 Years/50 Artworks      

42.
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Morris Kantor
(American, 1896–1974)
Figures in Movement
1959
oil on canvas, 53" x 56"
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Born in Minsk, Russia in 1896, Morris Kantor came to the United States in 1906. He received his first art instruction in 1916 at the Independent School of Art in New York, where his interest shifted from cartooning and illustration to abstract painting based on the model of European cubism. After studying in Paris in 1927, Kantor’s paintings became less abstract and more humanistic, as he depicted New York City as seen through the windows of his apartment/studio on Union Square, and houses and landscapes of New England. As his career evolved, Kantor’s work progressed toward the type of lyrical abstraction seen in Figures in Movement. He used rapidly applied, broad strokes of bold color together with varying widths of line to suggest the movement of the titular figures, and also the movement of the abstracted subject in and out of our vision.

Kantor taught at the Art Student’s League in New York beginning in the 1940s, where he had an enormous influence on many young artists, including Robert Rauschenberg. Minnesotan George Morrison (1919-2000) also studied with Kantor, and his work in this publication, Naides (1958) is remarkably similar in its use of color to Kantor’s Figures in Movement, which was painted less than a year later. Kantor was a Summer Guest Artist at the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1963 and 1964, and the subject of a solo exhibition at the Tweed Museum of Art in 1963, at which time Figures in Movement was acquired.

 
 
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