"3-9-61" (Abstraction in yellows) by Horst Trave

3-9-61 (Abstraction in yellows) by Horst Trave

"3-9-61" (Abstraction in yellows)

Horst Trave


"3-9-61" (Abstraction in yellows)


Horst Trave

  1918 - 2012 (biography)
oil on cardstock 
Image Size
15 7/8 x 11 3/4" image size 
pencil signed in the image, lower left corner 
Edition Size
pencil dated "3-9-61" beneath signature 
Inventory ID

An Abstract Expressionist oil painting on cardstock, done in 1961 by California AbEx painter Horst Trave. Trave, like some of the other expressionists, preferred to title his works with the date they were finished, rather than create a verbal preconception for the viewer.

Trave was born in Germany on June 22, 1918. His interest in art began in elementary school when he used pen and ink to sketch the landscapes of his home near Neuburg, as well as cartoons and illustrations for school projects. As Hitler rose to power in the late 1930s, Trave--ardently antifascist--was drafted into the Nazi army, and, at his father's encouragement, he fled to Sweden where he studied at the Swedish Royal Academy. He made his way to the United States in 1941 where, three years later, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent back to his homeland to fight in World War II. He would be one of the first GIs to enter Berlin after the fall of Hitler.

In 1945 Trave enrolled in San Francisco's California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) to pursue oil painting. His focus on Abstract Expressionism put him in line with Richard Diebenkorn, Sam Francis, Elmer Bischoff, Frank Lobdell, and other leading Abstract Expressionists who created the style known as the San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism. Like many of his peers, Trave was eager to immerse himself in the malleable, explorative genre following the hardships and nightmares of wartime.

He co-founded the 12-member Metart Galleries in 1949, the Bay Area's first "Beat Generation" gallery, and would exhibit regularly at North Beach's famous Dilexi Gallery, known for helping to establish the West Coast as a destination for collectors of contemporary, non-conformist art.

Despite being at the epicenter of one of art history's major revolutions, Trave remained mostly out of the limelight, preferring to paint for himself. He exhibited regularly but did not rely on sales to support himself and his family, believing that art and finances should be kept separate. After he received his MFA in 1951, he took a job as a high school art teacher; in the summers, he worked in construction, building houses throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.