George Ault 1891 —1948
The effect of Aults paintings are romantic, with a haunting poetic quality.
A precisionist and surrealist painter, George Ault was especially noted for nocturnes, he did numerous works that are entirely black, illuminated by a light high up on an electrical pole.. He had the ability to depict lonely, everyday beauty of the world in a moment of absolute stillness. He also experimented with more traditional styles of realism, but was relatively untouched by modernist abstraction. His paintings were based on what he saw around him, many of them architectural subjects, and rendered in a quietly controlled manner. His architectural, urban themes are rendered carefully and geometrically, with a great sense of design and careful paint application.
Ault was a descendant of French Huguenots and ancestors who fought in the American Revolution, George Copeland Ault was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1891. When he was eight, Ault moved with his family to London, England, where his father opened a printing company and thus introduced American printing techniques and American inks to Britain. He traveled extensively on the Continent, which exposed him to avant-garde art movements.
Interested in art, Ault undertook a comprehensive study of drawing and painting at a variety of London's art schools, including University College, the Slade School, London University, and St. John's Wood Art School. He supplemented his formal training with visits to art museums in London and Paris where he could copy the work of recognized masters; an accepted method of training. In 1911, at the age of twenty, Ault returned to the United States. He moved between New York and New Jersey until 1937, when he finally settled in the rural community of Woodstock, New York, where he freely explored his passion for the play of light. He remained there until his death.
Ault's early pictures were first exhibited at St. John's Wood Art School in 1908. The first American showing of his mature work occurred in New York in 1920, where the artist's individual approach earned positive attention. This trend continued, and the following year, he was honored by the Society of Independent Artists, who selected his work "A New York Skyline" for their show entitled "Our Choice of Independents." In his review of the exhibition, critic C. Lewis Hind commented that participating artists "promised that there was a future of American art away from the stereotype of the moribund academic productions of the day.” *
Ault’s mature paintings had a romantic, poetic quality, which he emphasized through his Modernist handling of strongly delineated shapes and color. Ault turned his work into a world of bold shapes and imaginary landscapes which he blended into de Chirico-like surreal settings. His forms shows the influence of European Modernism thru the particular geometric patterns in his paintings. Although Ault is often grouped with the Precisionist movement, he did not follow in their pattern of idealizing modern life. Instead, Ault’s art is a combination of Cubism, Surrealism, and American folk art that accurately portrays the American scene.
Ault exhibited in the city's major progressive galleries, including J. B. Neumann's New Art Circle, Edith Halpert's Downtown Gallery, and the Whitney Studio Club.
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21.5 x 15.5 inches
Museums that include the works of George Ault in their collection include
Addison Gallery of American Art; Arizona State University Art Museum; Art Institute of Chicago; Brooklyn Museum of Art; Butler Institute of American Art; Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh/Carnegie ; Columbus Museum of Art; De Young Museum of San Francisco; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute; Museum of Fine Arts Boston; National Gallery of Art; New Orleans Museum of Art; Oakland Museum of California; Oklahoma City Museum of Art; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum; The Hickory Museum of Art; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; The Newark Museum; The University of Arizona Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; and Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum.
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