Thomas Brownell Eldred Biography

Thomas Brownell Eldred




Thomas Brownell Eldred, painter and printmaker, was born in Climax, Michigan on February 19, 1903. His formal college education began at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, where, despite a keen interest in art, he majored in economics in 1926 as no art program was offered at the time. In his spare time he studied art and, in the late 1920s, he enrolled in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) based on the strength of this personal portfolio. It was there that he participated in his first major exhibition in 1932.

The 1930s proved to be a busy time for Eldred, who divided his time between his studies, teaching, and serving in the Merchant Marines. In 1933 he accepted a WPA-funded teaching position at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, where he worked until 1938. It was there that he met Werner Drewes, 
one of the founding members of the American Abstract Artists group, who would grealty influence Eldred's style and interest in non-representational abstraction. Simultaneously, he served a brief stint in the Merchant Marines before enrolling in the Art Students League of New York, studying under Thomas Hart Benton and Guy Pene DuBois.

During these years, the Guggenheims acquired his work for their new Museum of Non-Objective Art (now the Guggenheim Museum), and in the late 1930s, he traveled to Paris to study with the experimental printmaker Stanley William Hayter at his famed workshop, Atelier 17. As the Second World War brought refugee artists to the U.S., Hayter temporarily relocated Atelier 17 in New York and Eldred continued his work there alongside Chagall, Lipschitz, Miro, and many other artists who had fled the Nazi regime. By the mid 1940s Eldred had established himself as a leading American Abstract Expressionist as the genre catapulted into the art world's conscience.

Eldred exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, the Virginia Museum of Art in Richmond, and the Edward Hopper House Foundation in Nyack, New York. His work is included in the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Guggenheim Museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thomas Brownell Eldred died in Polk, Pennsylvania on May 21, 1993