John Opper


John  Opper Biography

American (1908-1994)

In a career that spanned nearly six decades and combined aspects of Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting, Mr. Opper became known for vibrantly colored paintings in which soft, cloudlike forms, or elongated plinths jostled gently against each other.

By American standards an early convert to abstraction, he was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group, which was formed in 1936. He had his first solo show in 1937, at the Artists' Gallery, an early downtown gallery, and was represented for nearly 30 years by the Grace Borgenicht Gallery.

Mr. Opper was born in Chicago and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland School of Art and the Hans Hoffman School in New York. He taught for many years at New York University. His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the National Museum of American Art in Washington, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art.

Academically trained like many of his contemporaries, Opper came to New York in 1934, two years after his graduation from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.  By 1937 Opper had become familiar with modernism, though he was not yet converted to the cause. In time, he became known as an Abstract Expressionist, a painter of large canvases in which vertical bands of varying widths pulsed with color.  His gesture was controlled, yet dynamic; his overlays of color luminous and tactile. In these works, and in field paintings in which clouds of color seem to float against soft grounds, he strengthened his commitment to "painting as painting" that he first developed as a Hofmann student.