Ed Clark USA, 1926-2019


Edward Clark was an abstract painter whose work was defined by large-powerful, emotive brushstrokes, often applied to the surface of his works with a push broom. Aside from Clark’s definitively unique aesthetic language and the substantial body of paintings he created over his lifetime, he is also influential for being credited as the first American painter to work on unusually shaped canvases.


Born in the Storyville section of New Orleans in 1926, Clark studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1947 to 1951 and L’Academie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris in 1952. After living for five years in Paris, Clark came to New York and became a charter member of the Brata gallery on Tenth Street, where artists like George Sugarman, Sal Romano, Al Held, John Krushenick, and Ronald Bladen were shown. It was during this period that he made his first shaped canvas, which appeared in the Brata gallery Christmas group show in 1957. The painting was later to be described in a 1972 Art News article by Lawrence Campbell as the first of its kind. Another early shaped painting made by Clark is now in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Clark made his first oval painting while living in Vétheuil, France (early home of Claude Monet) in 1968. This was almost a decade after Clark first started using his push broom technique, which allowed him to move paint swiftly across the canvas, creating broad bold strokes that convey a sense of urgency and action.


Clark’s paintings are in the permanent collections of dozens of the most influential institutions in the world. He has been the recipient of multiple awards including the Art Institute of Chicago’s Legends and Legacy Award (2013), Rush Philanthropic Arts’ Art for Life Honored Artist Award (2000), the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Painters and Sculptors Grant (1998), the United States Congressional Achievement Award (1994), the National Endowment for the Arts’ Master Award (1972), and Musée des Arts Decoratifs’ Prix d’Othon Friesz (1955).