Chris Ritter Biography

Chris Ritter

American

1906-1976

Biography

Chris Ritter was born on December 9, 1906 (most sources incorrectly cite 1908) in Iola, Kansas. He was a graduate of the University of Kansas, Lawrence where he was a pupil of Albert Bloch and Karl Mattern.  He then studied at the Art Students League in New York from 1933-36 with Richard Lahey and George Grosz. He also studied at Columbia University, and at the Brooklyn Museum School of Art. During World War II, he was an illustrator for the Air Force while serving in the army. 
Ritter became an important figure in the New York Postwar Avant-Garde scene. He opened the important Laurel Gallery in New York at 108 East 57th Street, in 1946. He began exhibiting works by avant-garde artists. In 1947 he did a show for artist Grace Borgenicht who became the Laurel Gallery co-director.
Like View Magazine, with which he seems to have been in some way associated, Ritter's work and his gallery explored the Surrealist sensibility transplanted from Europe and given new life as it came into contact with popular culture in the United States. The gallery published four “Laurels Portfolios” of prints, many of which were done by artists working in New York at S.W. Hayter’s Atelier 17.
Ritter closed the Laurel Gallery in 1952 and Grace Borgenicht opened a gallery on her own. The Grace Borgenicht Gallery opened on 57th Street in May 1951, with a show of Max Ernst's work. She continued to represent most of the artists that Laurel had worked with.
Ritter was also an instructor of art at Hunter College in New York City from 1939- 41, at Cornell University in Ithica, NY in 1947, at Ballard School from 1947-53, and at the Midland, Texas Art Center in 1954. He and his wife Jane retired to Ogunquit, Maine.
Chris Ritter's work is represented in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, the Worcester Art Museum, the Brooklyn Art Museum, the British Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the NY Public Library, and the Library of Congress. He also exhibited at the Chicago Art Institute.

Chris Ritter died in August 8 of 1976 in Ogunquit, York, Maine, USA