Richard V. Correll Biography

Richard V. Correll




Born in Springfield, Missouri on October 22, 1904, Richard V. Correll spent most of his life in the three West Coast states, spending his early years in small farms or towns in Oregon and California. He absorbed his intellectual thirst -- and the craft of fine woodworking - from his father, a lawyer, school teacher, master carpenter, and voracious reader, and the love of art and music from his mother, a musician trained at Oberlin. A natural artist from early childhood, by the age of four Dick was cutting perfect farm animals out of paper with his mother's sewing scissors. He was largely self-taught: "I combed the library of every place we moved to for reproductions and critical articles on artwork or artists. I’m a constant student." He also became sensitized to the environment early on through working in his family’s small garden plots and farms and caring for the occasional family cow, horse or flock of chickens."

Colleague M. Lee Stone writes, "In 1941 Correll and his wife moved to New York City where he remained for 11 years working in the commercial art field. New York's commercial and fine art scenes, however, were not without their difficulties. While commercial work paid decently, Correll always thought it a 'sorry thing' to use one's artistic abilities to sell products. His values were completely opposed to those of Madison Avenue, and this contradiction plagued him throughout his commercial career."

As America entered World War II, Correll, at 36, was too old for the draft. He joined the Civilian Defense Corps as an Air Raid Warden in the Greenwich Village area. He also did artwork for Civil Defense, producing dozens of pro bono flyers, banners, signs and posters for various causes. Daughter Leslie was born in 1944.

After joining the Artists League of America (ALA), an organization of progressive artists and sculptors "devoted to social, cultural, and economic interest of artists", Correll served as Publication Chair of the ALA News from 1943 on, and by 1946 was Editor. Membership in those years included Rockwell Kent, Lynd Ward, Jacob Lawrence and Moses Soyer. He exhibited regularly with ALA, and his linocut, "Air Raid Wardens" was included in the "Artists for Victory" travelling exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and 26 other venues in the USA and Canada.

In 1952 Dick had had enough of Madison Avenue and the family moved back to the West Coast, this time to San Francisco. Soon Dick joined the newly-formed Graphic Arts Workshop and Printmaker’s Gallery of San Francisco, a dynamic group of progressive artist-activists who shared studio and exhibition space as well as the desire to serve the ideals of peace and social justice through their artwork. The GAW was then located in North Beach, which threw Dick into the vital art and cultural movement of the 50’s. Through his lifelong membership in the Workshop he and met and worked with many other noted San Francisco artists and muralists of his generation such as Emmy Lou Packard, Irving Fromer, Victor Arnautoff, William Wolff, Louise Gilbert, Pele de Lappe and Stanley Koppel. In 1954 he realized a lifelong dream of visiting México, the famous Taller de Gráfica Popular and the great works of Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros that had so influenced him and his generation.

In 1969 Richard Correll happily retired from the commercial art field and was able to work full time at his fine art. The family moved to Oakland, across the Bay from San Francisco in 1972, where Dick could at last have a garden and a large studio. Upon the occasion of his 80th birthday he was honored with a major retrospective exhibition and community celebration.

Richard Correll died on June 15, 1990 in Alameda, California at the age of 85. A monograph on his work (Richard V. Correll: Prints and Drawings) was published in 2005, to "recognize the centenary of his birth."