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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)




Alden Mason

American, 1919 - 2013

As a teenager, Mason sent away for a mail order drawing course that taught him how to draw cartoon figures. This was his first introduction to developing his technical skills at "making" art, specifically in understanding how to handle the drawn line. In Billy, we see hints of the artist's interest in the humorous and absurd as well as in subjects painted as cartoonish characters. As Mason's practice developed, he began to blur traditional compositional boundaries-as in this portrait-between abstraction and figuration. Here, he creates an image whereby the figure, whose form pulsates in and out of a "landscape" of fanciful forms and ambiguous space, dissolves into the picture plane.
Acrylic on canvas
61 x 51 in. (154.9 x 129.5 cm)
Gift of The Persis Corporation
Provenance: [Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco, CA]; purchased by the Persis Corporation, Honolulu, HI, 1987; gifted to the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA, August 8, 2002
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Wash., Seattle Art Museum, Freeing the Figure, Nov. 5, 2009-Nov. 28, 2010

Seattle, Wash., Seattle Art Museum, Alden Mason, Nov. 6, 2010-July 17, 2011

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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