Joseph M. Glasco Biography

Joseph M. Glasco




Painter and sculptor Joseph Milton Glasco was born in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, in 1925. He attended the University of Texas at Austin before enlisting in the U.S. Army with America's entry into World War II, participating in the Battle of Bulge. With the end of the war he remained in Europe, moving to England and enrolling in the Portsmouth Art School in Bristol. Following this, he returned to the U.S., now living in Dallas, Texas where he worked as a graphic artist for the Deyfuss Department Store. He briefly moved to Los Angeles to take courses at the Jepson Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1946 to 1947, then on to Mexico, where he took courses in painting and sculpture in the San Miguel de Allende School of the Arts in 1948. He then moved to New York City to study at the Art Students League, studying under George Grosz.

Glasco immersed himself in the Abstract Expressionist scene of New York, becoming a part of the creative circles of Jackson Pollock and Alfonso A. Ossorio. In 1950 he held his first one-man exhibit at Perls Galleries and subsequently became the youngest painter to have a piece represented in the Museum of Modern Art. Three years later, the MoMA would include him in their seminal exhibition "Fifteen Americans" which included Pollock, Rothko, and others. He took courses at the Art Students League under Hans Hoffman and discovered the work of Jean Dubuffet, which would remain an inspiration throughout his career. He found himself among the most notable up and coming artists in New York City at a time when America led the charge in post-war Abstract Expressionism.

Despite these early successes, his preference for richly textured, figurative themes as opposed to the purely abstract - which was de rigueur at the moment - made it difficult for critics and dealers to categorize him. Frustrated by the pressure to conform and disillusioned with popularity, Glasco left New York for Taos, New Mexico where he lived for a time with author William Goyen. In the late 1950s he moved to Europe, living in Athens and then in the Canary Islands. He remained there for around a decade before returning to the U.S. He soon settled in Galveston, Texas, opening a studio near the Strand Emporium.

A period of reclusiveness kept him in his studio with little output. However, an introduction by a friend to the artist Julian Schnabel revived his artistic process and, after some encouragment, he returned with Schnabel to New York in 1978 to work on oils. This later-career experience in New York, the birthplace of his most prolific period, allowed him to experiement with a medium he had learned from Ossorio: painted canvas collage. His output at this time became almost entirely non-representational, and saturated in color, a stark contrast to his earlier work but still displaying his signature, energetic style. He worked in New York until 1983 when he returned to Galveston, but new connections made during his brief time in the city led to a show in London at the Waddington Gallery (now Waddington Custot).

Joseph Glasco died in Galveston, Texas, on May 31, 1996. Despite a long and varied career, he was largely forgotten by the broader art world until very recently. In 2015, a book about his life and work, Joseph Glasco: The Fifteenth American by Michael Raeburn, was published by Cacklegoose Press in conjunction with a retrospective at the Waddington Custot gallery.

His works are held in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.

Selected Museum of Modern Art exhibitions:
1950: Perls Gallery, New York; 'Recent Acquisitions', Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York
1952: 'Fifteen Americans', MoMA
1955, 1960: 'Selections from the Art Lending Service', MoMA
1957: 'Recent American Acquisitions', MoMA
1961: '100 Drawings from the Museum Collection', MoMA
1985: 'Reinstallation of the Contemporary Galleries', MoMA
1986: Retrospective, the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX
2015: Waddington Custot Gallery, London