b. 1904, Millville, New York
d. 1990, Montauk Point, New York
Balcomb Greene was an American abstract artist who, influenced by Juan Gris, Piet Mondrian, and Pablo Picasso, arrived at his own unique hybridization of Cubism and Abstract Expressionism. Greene wrote, “The abstract artist can approach man through the most immediate of aesthetic experiences, touching below consciousness and the veneer of attitudes, contacting the whole ego rather than the ego on the defensive". In 1931, he traveled to Paris to study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, and after his return to the United States in 1935, he became the first President of the Artists Union. He became the first Chairman of the American Abstract Artists (AAA) in 1936. Greene’s paintings were geometrically abstract throughout this decade; it was not until the 1940s that he began to incorporate the figure into his work. In 1951, Greene began to exclusively depict the figure, although the works were heavily abstracted at first. He was given a retrospective at the Whitney in 1961, and in 1976, he won the Altman First Prize in Figure Painting and became a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
His works can be found in notable public collections across the United States, including the Brooklyn Museum; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford; the Museum of Fine Arts Houston; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Museum of American Art, Washington D.C.; the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena; the Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.