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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Painting: 20th century: Red Abstraction
Red Abstraction


Red Abstraction
1959
Alma Thomas
oil on canvas
40 x 27 3/4 in. (101.6 x 70.5 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist
1978.40.2
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Hear more about Red Abstraction 1.3MB

". . . through my impressions of nature . . . I hoped to impart beauty, joy, love, and peace." Artist’s statement, in Van Vechten, Recent Painting by Alma W. Thomas: Earth and Space Series, Exhibition Catalogue, Gallery of Fine Arts, 1971


Alma Thomas was inspired by the garden outside her window and painted images that suggest light flickering through leaves and petals. She used dabs and strokes of paint to express the "new colors through the windowpanes" that appeared every time the plants moved in the wind (Alma Thomas: Phantasmagoria, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, 2001). Here, the reds, browns, and greens create a warm, heavy mass in the center of the image, which contrasts with the paler shades around the edges. The earthy tones evoke the changing of the leaves during fall, when treetops appear to burst with vibrant color.


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