Cleve Gray

Abstract painter Cleve Gray combined thinly washed colorful backgrounds with sweeping gestural brushstrokes that seemingly float above the surface. After completing a degree in art and archaeology at Princeton University, where he wrote his thesis on Chinese Yuan Dynasty landscape painting, Gray informally studied painting under Jacques Villon and André Lhote in Paris in the years following World War II. Gray was most critically successful in the late 1960s and 70s after transitioning from Cubist-inspired works to large-scale abstract canvases made with a combination of pouring, sponging, and staining techniques. Among his most ambitious projects was “Threnody” (1973), a series of 14 monumental canvases dedicated to victims of the Vietnam War and commissioned for the Neuberger Museum of Art. In addition to his painting career, Gray was a contributing editor of Art in America and edited books written by David SmithJohn Marin, and Hans Richter about their own work.