Jack Tworkov

Knight Series #3 (Q3-75 #4) (1975)
Oil on canvas
90h x 75w in (228.6h x 190.5w cm)
Knight Series #3 (Q3-75 #4) (1975)
Oil on canvas
90h x 75w in (228.6h x 190.5w cm)
Q2-78-S #2 (1978)
Oil on canvas
25h x 25w in (63.5h x 63.5w cm)
Q2-78-S #2 (1978)
Oil on canvas
25h x 25w in (63.5h x 63.5w cm)
Duo II (1956)
Oil on canvas 
81h x 42w in (205.7h x 106.7w cm)
Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art
Duo II (1956)
Oil on canvas
81h x 42w in (205.7h x 106.7w cm)
Collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art
X on Circle in the Square (Q4-81 #2) (1981)
Acrylic on canvas
49h x 45w in (124.5h x 114.3w cm)
X on Circle in the Square (Q4-81 #2) (1981)
Acrylic on canvas
49h x 45w in (124.5h x 114.3w cm)
West 23rd (1963)
Oil on canvas 
60.13h x 80w in (152.7h x 203.2w cm)
Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York
West 23rd (1963)
Oil on canvas
60.13h x 80w in (152.7h x 203.2w cm)
Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Indian Red Series #2 (1979)
Oil on canvas; 72h x 72w in (182.9h x 182.9w cm)
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Indian Red Series #2 (1979)
Oil on canvas; 72h x 72w in (182.9h x 182.9w cm)
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Guardian #1 (1952)
Oil on canvas 
50h x 21w in (127h x 53.3w cm)
Guardian #1 (1952)
Oil on canvas
50h x 21w in (127h x 53.3w cm)
Compression and Expansion of the Square (Q3-82 #2) (1982)
Oil on canvas 
36h x 108w in (91.4h x 274.3w cm)
Compression and Expansion of the Square (Q3-82 #2) (1982)
Oil on canvas
36h x 108w in (91.4h x 274.3w cm)
Diptych for Wally (1982)
Oil on canvas 
90h x 150w in (228.6h x 381w cm)
Diptych for Wally (1982)
Oil on canvas
90h x 150w in (228.6h x 381w cm)
Three Five Eight #1 (Q3-75 #6) (1975)
Acrylic on canvas
80h x 80w in (203.2h x 203.2w cm)
Three Five Eight #1 (Q3-75 #6) (1975)
Acrylic on canvas
80h x 80w in (203.2h x 203.2w cm)
Idling II (1970)
Oil on canvas 
80h x 70w in (203.2h x 177.8w cm)
Idling II (1970)
Oil on canvas
80h x 70w in (203.2h x 177.8w cm)
Nightfall (1961)
Oil on canvas 
62h x 76w in (157.5h x 193w cm)
Nightfall (1961)
Oil on canvas
62h x 76w in (157.5h x 193w cm)
Ending (SSP #9) (1967-68)
Oil on canvas 
80h x 61w in (203.2h x 154.9w cm)
Ending (SSP #9) (1967-68)
Oil on canvas
80h x 61w in (203.2h x 154.9w cm)

Biography

 view entire CV PDF 294 K

Jack Tworkov (b.1900, Biala, Poland – d.1982, Provincetown, MA) emigrated to the United States at the age of thirteen, and attended Columbia College as an English major. Spurred by his sister, the artist Janice Biala, he left the university in 1923 to begin art classes at the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design. During this period, Tworkov also studied under important members of the Provincetown community of artists, such as Charles W. Hawthorne and Ross E. Moffett. In 1958, he established a home and studio in Provincetown, where he continued to spend his summers until his death. The artist’s first works from the 1920s and 1930s reflect the influence of early modernists such as Cézanne, and predominantly feature still-lifes and figurative scenes.

In 1934, during the Great Depression, Tworkov joined the Easel Division of the Works Progress Administration, where he befriended artists such as Willem de Kooning (the two shared neighboring studios from 1948–1955), Franz Kline, and Mark Rothko. In the Post War years of the late 1940s, he continued his association with these artists, and became a founding member of the seminal Eighth Street Club in 1949, the meeting place for the New York School. He participated in many of the Club’s panel discussions that debated and defined Abstract Expressionism. In 1951, he played a key role in the organization of the important exhibition 9th Street: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture at the 9th Street Gallery, New York, which showcased many artists who would become the prominent figures of Post War American art, such as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, and Lee Krasner. Into the early 1950s, Tworkov maintained a practice of figural abstraction, titling and culling his paintings’ content from Homer’s Ulysses. As the decade progressed, he came to fully embrace abstraction, with works that were based on an underlying structure and rendered with spontaneous flame-like brushstrokes.

A pivotal figure in the development of Abstract Expressionism, Tworkov was also one of the first to question the movement’s commodification, cult of personality, and absorption into academia. In 1965, his painting style shifted radically, as he moved away from overtly gestural Abstract Expressionism to controlled diagrammatic abstraction. Taking an interest in elementary geometry, he turned to the rectangle and its potential measurements as the basis of pictorial composition. He wrote, “All my paintings began with carefully worked out drawings and measurements that I could repeat at will. But the actual painting I left to varieties of spontaneous brushing… I wanted, and hope I arrived at, a painting style in which planning does not exclude intuitive and sometimes random play.” In subsequent work of the 1970s and 1980s, he continued to explore this tension through experimentation with planar illusion, geometric form, the grid, and loose but regulated brushwork. The “Knight Series” (1975–77), in which he created geometric shapes based on the various possibilities of knight pieces’ moves across a chessboard, underscores this conceptual approach.

Throughout his life, Jack Tworkov taught in numerous art departments throughout the United States. Notable appointments include Visiting Artist at Black Mountain College (1952) and Chair of the Art Department of the School of Art and Architecture, Yale University (1963–69). He received Honorary Doctorates from Rhode Island School of Design (1979), Columbia University (1972), and Maryland Institute of Art (1971). In 1976, he was awarded the Distinguished Teaching of Art Award from the College Art Association of America. Tworkov also wrote extensively. His articles were widely published, and his essay “The Wondering Soutine” (1950; first published in Art News) remains an important text in the study of Abstract Expressionism. In 2009, an extensive compilation of Tworkov’s writings were published in The Extreme of the Middle: Writings of Jack Tworkov, edited by Mira Schor.

Jack Tworkov’s work has been the subject of numerous one-person exhibitions, including retrospectives at the Asheville Museum, NC (2015); Black Mountain College Museum and Art Center, Asheville, NC (2011); UBS Art Gallery, New York (2009); Boston College Museum, Chesnut Hill, MA (1994); Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA (1987); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1982); Poses Institute of Fine Arts, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA (1965); and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1964). His work will be the subject of upcoming exhibitions at the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH (2015) and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy (2016). His work has been featured in over two-dozen Whitney Annuals and Biennials, and two Carnegie Internationals (1952 and 1958). Tworkov’s work is represented in prominent private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT; Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA; and Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN; among others.

Articles / Reviews

  • Tworkov Artforum  September 25, 2015  PDF 282 K
  • Tworkov Hyperallergic  September 5, 2015  PDF 3.6 MB
  • Tworkov ArtNews  September 4, 2015  PDF 379 K
  • Tworkov ArtNews  May 11, 2015  PDF 359 K
  • Tworkov Citizen Times  March 26, 2015  PDF 208 K
  • Tworkov Boston Globe  June 3, 2014  PDF 695 K
  • Tworkov Border Crossings  2012  PDF 574 K
  • Tworkov Cape Cod Times  July 22, 2010  PDF 390 K
  • Tworkov Brooklyn Rail  October 5, 2009  PDF 259 K
  • Tworkov Brooklyn Rail  October 5, 2009  PDF 429 K
  • Tworkov New Criterion  September 2009  PDF 160 K
  • Tworkov New York Times  August 31, 2009  PDF 254 K
  • Tworkov New York Times  March 16, 2007  PDF 87 K
  • Tworkov Artforum  April 2000  PDF 266 K
  • Tworkov Boston Globe  February 8, 1994  PDF 427 K
  • Tworkov Artforum  Summer 1987  PDF 5.8 MB
  • Tworkov Arts Magazine  April 1985  PDF 1.5 MB
  • Tworkov Art in America  November 1982  PDF 1.1 MB
  • Tworkov Arts Magazine  October 1982  PDF 1.8 MB
  • Tworkov Arts Magazine  September 1982  PDF 0.9 MB
  • Tworkov New York Times  April 9, 1982  PDF 242 K
  • Tworkov Capestyle People  April 1, 1982  PDF 270 K
  • Tworkov Third Eye Centre  1979  PDF 0.9 MB
  • Tworkov Artforum  Summer 1977  PDF 258 K
  • Tworkov Art International  April 20, 1974  PDF 4.7 MB
  • Tworkov Arts Magazine  January 1874  PDF 646 K
  • Tworkov Star News  June 26, 1973  PDF 0.8 MB
  • Tworkov ARTnews  March 1971  PDF 624 K
  • Tworkov ARTnews  April 1964  PDF 2.5 MB
  • Tworkov Art in America  September – October 1973  PDF 2 MB
  • Tworkov New York Times  April 16, 1957  PDF 123 K
  • Tworkov ARTnews  May 1953  PDF 1 MB
  • Tworkov ARTnews  November 1949  PDF 337 K
  • Tworkov New York Times  July 28, 1929  PDF 487 K