Spanish/American, 1903 - 2001
Esteban Vicente began his life and career in Spain. His first solo show was in 1928 at the Ateneo de Madrid. He continued to show actively in Spain before moving to the United States in 1936 where he fell into a crowd that included the likes of Pollock, Rothko, Franz Klein, Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman, and Willem de Kooning, with whom he shared a studio with at one point. He had his first solo show in the United States in 1937 at the Kleeman Gallery, and subsequently participated in a myriad of other exhibitions including the infamous artist-organized Ninth Street Show, and all of the Stable Gallery Annuals. In addition to painting, Vicente taught for the majority of his career, and was on the faculty at numerous institutions across the US, including Yale, Princeton, and the University of California, Berkeley.
Though he began as a representational painter, Vicente abandoned this style to explore abstraction, which made up most of his body of work. He was deeply interested in collage as a medium, and produced incredibly vibrant, yet careful assemblages. His works are poetic, thoughtful, and gentle-- he was more in tune with a Rothko sensibility than a de Kooning. Even his charcoal black and white drawings are meticulously crafted, yet lyrical in their simplicity.
In 1991 Vicente received a Gold Medal for Fine Arts from King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain. At the end of his life, a museum was opened in his honor--the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente. Vicente was present for its opening in Segovia by the Spanish government in 1998. He even had a street named after him near his birthplace in Turegano.