DescriptionRobert Preusser (American, 1919-1992)
Watercolor and ink on paper
13 x 20 inches (33.0 x 50.8 cm) (image)
Signed and dated lower center: Robert Preusser 47
By descent to the present owner.
Robert Preusser was born in Houston and studied there with McNeill Davidson as well as at the Institute of Design in Chicago, at the Newcomb School of Art in New Orleans, and at the Art Center School in Los Angeles. Preusser is generally acknowledged as one of the earliest Texas artists to produce and show abstract expressionism. However, Circus, 1947 is a rare example of his interest in more figurative subjects. It highlights daring feats and exotic sites which greeted circus-goers of the time, including clowns, acrobats, and bareback horse riders, as well as giraffes, lions, and elephants. The dynamic composition uses differing perspectives and rhythmic lines to invoke the frenzy and surrealistic mood of the event. The circus ring in the bottom of the painting has been shown as if you were looking straight down, while the viewer simultaneously looks out through the tent awnings that frame the top of the image. The corresponding curves of the awnings and ring are echoed over and over again as your eye is drawn from one vignette to the next-each one a little gem-while the poles and high-wire add additional structure. The result is charming example of Texas modernism in which he employs the lines, shapes, rhythms, and colors of his better known abstract subjects
In two Untitled watercolors from 1936 and 1937, Robert Preusser employs a device later used by the Abstract Expressionists. Drips and spatters were laid down first in this composition. Additional colors and other elements followed. These non-objective watercolors from 1936 and 1937 bear no sign of prior planning. There is no pencil drawing underneath. It is total spontaneity and creativity at work. A blank sheet of paper, the artist, and paint. To those basic ingredients add instinct and emotion. The most amazing aspect of this watercolor lies in the age of the artist when it was created (18 years old), as well as its advanced Modernist style. Suffice it to say, these early Preusser watercolors represent the first non-objective paintings in Texas and possibly the Southwest. They predate the Abstract Expressionists such as Pollock and DeKooning by several years. Pruesser would continue to experiment throughout his career -- creating unique drip style paintings such as Cryptography to sculpture reliefs such as #23.
Sheet measures 15.5 x 22 inches and is partially adhered to mount at center with archival corners for security; vestiges of old tape along margins, not visible when matted; very slight paper discoloration and some foxing, most notably in center of work; matted to 18.75 x 26 inches. Not framed.
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