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Gertrude Abercrombie

Artist Statement


Gertrude Abercrombie (1909 - 1977) was is an American painter known for her modestly scaled Surrealist works. She was born in Austin, Texas to parents who both were employed by a traveling opera company. As a child she traveled throughout the United States and Europe until the beginning of World War I when her family settled in Chicago, IL. She studied languages at the University of Illinois and art at the School of the Art Institute Chicago.

Abercrombie stated, “I am not interested in complicated things nor in the commonplace, I like to paint simple things that are a little strange. My work comes directly from my inner consciousness and it must come easily.” She painted with a controlled palette of colors and has several motifs that repeat themselves throughout her work – owls, moonlit landscapes and cats. She also appears frequently in her paintings, often dressed in a long, dark gown.

Abercrombie is called the “queen of the bohemian artists.” She was heavily involved in the Chicago jazz scene and was close friends with notable jazz musicians, such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Sarah Vaughan, who influenced her work.

Gertrude’s works are held in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, among others.