Esteban Vicente (1904-2001), one of the first generation of the New York Abstract Expressionists, was born in Turégano, Spain on January 20, 1904.
After early schooling with the Jesuits he enrolled at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes
in 1921. He had his first one-man exhibition in Madrid in 1928, after which he left for Paris
and did not return to Spain
until 1930. In 1935 he married Estelle Charney, an American whom he had met in Paris. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War
in 1936 Vicente, supporting the Loyalist
forces, painted camouflage in the mountains outside Madrid for a few months. Later that year he and his wife moved to New York
. The (Loyalist) Spanish Ambassador to the U.S. set him up as a Vice Consul in Philadelphia
, a position which supported his family for three years. Vicente had ample time to continue with his art and had his first one-man show in New York at the Kleeman Gallery in 1937. After the fall of the Spanish Republic
in 1939 he returned to New York City. During World War II
he supported himself with portrait commissions and by teaching Spanish. A 1945 exhibition in Puerto Rico
led in 1946 to a position at the University of Puerto Rico
teaching painting. After his return to New York in 1947 he established relationships with most of the members of the nascent New York School
, participating in their seminal exhibitions at the Kootz Gallery in 1950, in the 9th Street Art Exhibition
in 1951 and in exhibitions at the Sidney Janis
and Egan Galleries. Subsequently he was represented by the Leo Castelli
Emmerich and Berry-Hill Galleries in New York City. He was a founding member of the New Yok Studio School, where he taught for 36 years. Although he never exhibited in Spain during the rule of Francisco Franco
, in 1998 the Spanish government opened the Esteban Vicente Museum of Contemporary Art in Segovia.
Vicente maintained a house and studio in Bridgehampton, NY from 1964. His marriage to Estelle Charney ended in divorce in 1943, shortly after the death of their daughter Mercedes, aged six. A second marriage, to Maria Teresa Babin, also ended in divorce. Vicente died in Bridgehampton on January 10, 2001. He was survived by his third wife, Harriet Peters, whom he married in 1961.
He has been honored as a renowned artist and child advocate by a New York City Bronx School Public School 170, a Kindergarten to Second Grade school has been named the Esteban Vicente school. The work of Esteban Vicente if this expressionist artist goes on. It is the effort of a family member who has incorporated Art programs into the schools. Students' talents emerge as they are exposed to the culture. At PS 170 students learn about Esteban Vicente and his style, color and design. As a result you can visit PS 170 and see examples of expressionism that adorn the walls of the school.
- Frank, Elizabeth and Ellen Russotto. Esteban Vicente (Hudson Hills Press, 2005)
Exhibition Catalogs with Significant Text
- Frank, Elizabeth, Elaine De Kooning & Juan Manuel Bonet. Esteban Vicente: Collages, 1950-1994 (IVAM Centre Julio González, 1995) Text in English and Spanish
- Esteban Vicente A Retrospective View: 1951-2000 (Riva Yares Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ, 2002)
- Sandler, Irving. Esteban Vicente: the Aristocratic Eye (Ameringer Yohe Fine Art New York (2007)
- The New York Times, Jan. 12, 2001
Esteban Vicente’s painting: the creation of an atmosphere and of a mental state