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Artists Fairfield Porter
Fairfield Porter Photo

Fairfield Porter

American Painter, Printmaker, and Writer

Movement: Realism

Born: June 10, 1907 - Winnetka, Illinois

Died: September 18, 1975 - Southampton, New York

Fairfield Porter Timeline

Quotes

"The right use of color can make any composition work."
Fairfield Porter
"The profoundest order is revealed in what is most casual."
Fairfield Porter
"Subject matter must be normal in the sense that it does not appear sought after so much as simply happening to one."
Fairfield Porter
"If you are vain it is vain to sign your pictures and vain not to sign them. If you not vain it is not vain to sign them and not vain not to sign them" (This was Porter's response on whether or not it was vain for an artist to sign his pictures.)
Fairfield Porter
"It is the economic pressure on scholarship exerted by the universities that leads to the naming of movements in the arts, and once a movement is named, it is justified by words, and the literature around it gives it critical validity."
Fairfield Porter

"Any artist has a style which determines and is the particularity of his communication."

Fairfield Porter Signature

Synopsis

Fairfield Porter was one of the foremost practitioners of representational painting in the American art world of the mid-20th century. For several decades he created portraits, domestic scenes, and landscapes of the places he lived in, all depicting a relaxed and comfortable world that seemed to mirror his own affluent, well-connected existence. However, his art was often more nuanced than it appears at first glance. The influence of French Nabis painters Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard is obvious, yet Porter was also fully conversant in contemporary movements such as Abstract Expressionism, and his loose, energetic painting style owed much to his understanding of gestural abstraction. Porter was also a prolific critic whose work was published in several influential art journals; in his writing, as in his friendships and mentorships, he often championed other artists who sustained a commitment to realism and figuration.

Key Ideas

Porter painted in a representational style at the height of Abstract Expressionism's dominance. He insisted on the relevance of authentically lived experience as subject matter, rather than pure ideology as a motivation for making art."The truest order is what you already find there, or that will be given if you don't try for it,"he wrote. "When you arrange, you fail."
Porter was vitally concerned with the close relationship between realism and abstraction: in successful art, he believed, one could not exist without the other. He once wrote: "The realist thinks he knows ahead of time what reality is, and the abstract artist what art is, but it is in its formality that realist art excels, and the best abstract art communicates an overwhelming sense of reality."
As an art critic, Porter also championed the next generation of representational painters working in figurative and realist styles. In this way he provided a link between movements like Social Realism of the 1930s and Neo-Expressionism of the 1980s.

Biography

Fairfield Porter Photo

Childhood

Fairfield Porter was born in Winnetka, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He was the fourth of five children of James and Ruth (née Furness) Porter. The Porter family fortune, based in Chicago real estate, was several generations old; both sides of his family also had deep roots in New England.

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Fairfield Porter Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Fairfield Porter
Interactive chart with Fairfield Porter's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Pierre BonnardPierre Bonnard
Édouard VuillardÉdouard Vuillard
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning
Joseph CornellJoseph Cornell
Isamu NoguchiIsamu Noguchi

Personal Contacts

Virginia WoolfVirginia Woolf
Bertrand RussellBertrand Russell
Carl JungCarl Jung
Clement GreenbergClement Greenberg

Movements

NaturalismNaturalism
ImpressionismImpressionism
RealismRealism
Folk ArtFolk Art
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism

Influences on Artist
Fairfield Porter
Fairfield Porter
Years Worked: 1935 - 1961
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning
Donald JuddDonald Judd
Anselm KieferAnselm Kiefer
Nell BlaineNell Blaine
Joan MitchellJoan Mitchell

Personal Contacts

James SchuylerJames Schuyler
John AshberyJohn Ashbery
Frank O'HaraFrank O'Hara
Peter SchjeldahlPeter Schjeldahl

Movements

Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
Neo-ExpressionismNeo-Expressionism
Social RealismSocial Realism
PhotorealismPhotorealism

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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