George De Groat
The Artist's Legacy

Contemporary Art

Paintings, Prints, Drawings

About Chromatic Expressionism

The Artist's Statement

 April 1979, “Chromatic Expressionism” . . .   Is the name I have given a new idea in painting where I use expressively developed subject matter subordinated to the sensation of a single color. The example of this idea occurs in a series of twelve paintings where a single color is used for each one and each is capable of standing alone as a complete, individual, expressive statement. Since each of the twelve paintings is developed in a different color, all twelve may be combined to provide the visual experience of a single painting involving a twelve-color spectrum: red, red-orange, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet, violet, and red-violet.     

  The impetus for this idea arose in my interest in the visual impact of a single color in chromatic abstractionist painting. However, I was intrigued with the possibilities of taking chromatic abstraction a step further by including expressive imagery with the impact of color. This led to experiments that resulted in “Red Painting No 1”. Next came the other two primary colors, then the tertiary colors. As an extension of the thinking behind chromatic abstraction, my goal here was to achieve a high degree of personal expression added to the sensation of a single color, which dominates each painting.   In every case, paint was applied spontaneously in developing ideas concerning the human figure. In this way, expressively developed subject matter is combined with the dynamics of composition. These are intentional references to traditional esthetics in contrast to the opposite intentions of chromatic abstraction. (It is for this reason that I call my new work chromatic expressionism to distinguish it from chromatic abstraction.)  

  The deliberately expressive application of paint on the canvas is essential to the feelings I wish to convey. Moreover, the use of the human figure as imagery rather than the use of totally abstract shapes is necessary as a personal statement. Of course, dynamic composition is required for the effective communication of these ideas and, feelings. But to fulfill the idea of chromatic expressionism, all of this had to be subordinated to the sensation of color, which in turn had to related to the idea and feeling of each painting.   The series of twelve paintings presented other challenges. One of these was to carry out a central theme throughout all twelve paintings and to make smooth, gradual transitions from one painting to another so that each painting relates to the next in terms of content and with no sudden or abrupt differences in value contrasts or intensity of color between adjacent paintings. My meeting this challenge it was possible to make all twelve paintings work together as a whole, single statement in addition to the capability of any one of them being removed from the series for viewing as an individual statement on its own.    

  As in the case with other forms of color field painting, the size of a chromatic expressionistic painting is important so that the color may make the most imposing statement possible. However, with specific imagery as subject matter, it was necessary to hold size down to a maximum that avoid ungainly distortions. On the other hand, the size of each canvas had to be large enough to allow color to dominate the viewer’s senses without dwarfing the subject matter.   In addition to these considerations, the series of twelve paintings required that each one be the same size and format in order to present a uniform whole. These requirements were met by experiments that led to a horizontal format and optimum dimensions of 48 x 66 inches for each painting.   After the series was started in October 1976, I received a Ford Foundation grant to continue its development. I completed the series in December 1978.    

George De Groat, April 1979       

About George De Groat

George De Groat 1917 - 1995 Painter, Printmaker, Teacher Oil on canvas, mixed media, print etchings, lithography, sculpture   Born: Newark, New Jersey, January 7, 1917. Died: January 1, 1995, Carmel Valley, California   


Studied: The Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts, Newark Preparatory College (B.A.), Art School of Detroit and Society of Arts, Detroit.   

Work: Contemporary/ California Bay Area Figurative   

Notable Collections: Ira Gershwin, Sam Jaffe, Edward G. Robinson, William Holden, Carl Laemmle, McGraw Hill Publishing Co., United California Bank, Los Angeles, Aeroquip Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art and others. Cultural exchange collections shown in Germany and Japan.   Gallery Representation/Major Exhibitions:   Pasadena Art Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Municipal Exhibition Gallery (Germany), Cultural Exchange Exhibition (Japan), Associated “American Artists Gallery (New York), Phyllis Lucas Gallery (New York), Lakey Gallery (Carmel, CA), Carmel Art Association, Los Angeles Art Association, Palos Verdes Art Center Museum, Otis Art Institute.   Published: ART IN AMERICA Magazine, FORD TIME Magazine, LOS ANGELES Magazine, “Drawing – A Search for Form”, “Oil Painting Techniques and Materials”, “The Hidden Elements of Drawing”, Reproductions 1974”, “California Graphics ‘ 1974”, “Business” Magazine”   Member:  Carmel Art Association, Los Angeles Art Association, American Association of University Professors   Awards/Recognition: Numerous awards received since 1969 including the Ford Foundation Grant for Advanced Experiments in Color Field Painting and one of fifty artists invited to participate in the Invitational Painting Exhibition - “Art and the Law.” Listed “Who’s Who in American Art” and “Who’s Who in the West.”   

Taught:  Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles. Assistant Dean and Chairman for Special Classes Program Art Center College of Design, California California State College at San Diego, California Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan Extended Education Program, Monterey, California   

George De Groat was recognized as a “painter’s painter” and master print maker. People, their attitudes and activities; the sea and its forms, colors and moods; sky, trees, hills, fields and other elements of physical existence provided  De Groat with an inexhaustible supply of subject matter to explore through line, color and form. The structure of recognizable subject matter is combined with elements of abstract design. 

De Groat has said, “I try to develop images that not only express the essential characteristics of my ideas but also offer the viewers an opportunity to participate by bringing something of themselves to the work. I try to express myself with the most forceful personal statements possible. I reject that which is contrary to my own nature regardless of popular fashion.”       

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The Artist's Legacy: George De Groat

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