Melville Price

1920 - 1970

Melville Price was one of the youngest of the first generation Abstract Expressionist circle of painters working in New York after WWII. Though only in his late twenties he began exhibiting in 1948 in New York at Hugo, Bodely, Iolas and Egan galleries. In a 1949 showing at Peridot galleries Price was hailed for his breakthrough work titled the "Maze Series." A complex interweaving of organic shapes, automatic in nature and sometimes resembling bones or body parts, the "Maze" paintings exuded a pulsating energy that brought him critical acclaim. He received rave reviews in Art Digest, New York Times and New York Tribune. Melville Price was on his way. Melville Price grew up in a prosperous family in Kingston, New York where he had a studio in the family home from an early age. The Depression began to take a toll on the family business and the untimely death of his father in 1939 was a devastating blow from which Price never fully recovered. Unable to afford formal schooling, Price began studying informally at the Art Students League, the New School for Social Research and the National Academy of Design. Prior to his father's death Mel befriended the painter Joseph Stella who became his artistic guide and mentor, introducing him to the avant-garde styles of cubism and surrealism and encouraging the younger painter to experiment. Price also got a job with the WPA where he met the older generation of modern painters including Gorky, de Kooning, Pollock and Kline. Franz Kline, in particular, became a life-long friend and soul mate. Between 1946 and 48 his style moved away from a surrealist based work to a decentralized, all-over manner of painting which eventually became the "Maze" works. When the "Club" was started Price was invited to join and forged close relationships with other members of the New York School including Fritz Bultman, Giorgio Cavallon, Weldon Kees, Bradley Walker Tomlin, Robert Motherwell, Milton Resnick and Conrad Marca-Relli. In 1951 he was honored to be included in the 9th St. Show, the premier event of the Abstract Expressionist movement. In spite of this success, as with most of his colleagues, money was scarce and Price supplemented his income working for the framemakers Benevi & Feist and the House of Heydenryck. Still, times were tough and in 1951 he and Kline accepted part-time jobs teaching in Philadelphia at the Museum School, commuting together a couple of days each week between the two cities. Price found that he liked teaching, enjoyed the paycheck and there was a thriving abstract art scene there that somewhat paralleled what was happening in New York. After the first year Kline gave up the job and Price moved full time to Philadelphia where he began exhibiting with Dubin and Hendler galleries. In 1955 he married one of his students, Barbara Gillette and the couple moved soon to the picturesque town of New Hope on the Delaware River. There Price began his next major cycle of paintings titled the "New Hope Series." Though different in composition, these vibrant, muscular works were a logical extension of the successful "Maze" paintings and brought Price positive attention. In 1958 he accepted a visiting teaching position (which would become a full time appointment) at the University of Alabama. Mel and Barbara spent twelve happy years in Tuscaloosa — known as the "Yale of the South," it was an energetic, liberal bastion of creativity with a fabulous faculty and student body. In 1962, with a sabbatical from the University, Price began work on an ambitious project called the "Black Warrior," a 9 x 16 foot canvas on which he completed in 1963. He followed the success of "Black Warrior" with a new series of large, mixed media assemblage canvases incorporating new elements of oil and collage with references to POP, Rauschenberg and Johns. These works, in turn, were pointing the painter in yet another exciting direction when he suddenly died of a massive heart attack in 1970. After his death Price was honored with retrospective exhibitions at the University of Alabama, the Speed Museum and the Corcoran Gallery. He is represented in numerous private and public collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Museum County Museum of Art and the Milwaukee Art Museum. We have represented his estate for eighteen years.

Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Melville Price
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1956
graphite on paper
14 x 10 1/2 inches
#12017
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled (Two Figures), 1944
oil/gouache on paper mounted to board
22 x 14 3/4 inches
#380
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
The Tornado, 1954
oil on canvas
24 x 36 inches
#393
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled Woman, 1955-58
pencil on paper
10 x 7 3/4 inches
#4446
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, 1969-70
mixed media on paper
14 x 11 inches
#4498
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Solar, 1963
oil and mixed media collage on canvas
68 5/8 x 47 inches
#4842
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1962
oil on paper
18 x 24 inches
#6539
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1959
oil on paper
18 3/4 x 23 1/2 inches
#6548
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1959
oil on paper
19 x 12 inches
#6568
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1947
gouache on heavy paper
12 x 16 inches
#7841
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled (Woodstock), 1944
oil on board
20 x 16 inches
#7842
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1947
ink on paper
4 x 6 inches
#12013
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1948
ink and gouache in board
8 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches
#12014
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1955
gouache on paper
10 1/2 x 14 inches
#12016
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled (Surrealist Study), c. 1946
gouache and ink on paper (2 sheets)
20 x 14 7/8 inches
#11968
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1944
ink on paper
9 x 8 inches
#12018
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
River Styx, c. 1944
pencil on paper
7 1/2 x 9 inches
#12019
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Trapeze Performer, c. 1944
ink on paper
6 1/2 x 3 3/4 inches
#12020
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Dante, c. 1944
ink on paper
6 1/2 x 4 3/4 inches
#12021
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Two Figures, 1952
ink on board
9 1/2 x 10 inches
#12022
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Self, c. 1944
pencil on paper
9 x 6 inches
#12023
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled Abstract Arrangement, c. 1944
pencil on paper
4 x 4 1/2 inches
#12025
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Two Rabbis, c. 1944
watercolor on paper
6 1/2 x 5 inches
#12026
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Dante's Inferno – Canto III, c. 1944
watercolor and ink on paper
12 x 8 1/2 inches
#12027
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, 1962
graphite on paper
18 x 22 1/2 inches
#12028
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1957
charcoal on paper
18 3/4 x 23 3/4 inches
#12029
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1965
mixed media on paper
17 x 22 5/8 inches
#12030
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, 1960
oil on paper
18 x 24 inches
#6551
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Maze Series, 1950
oil on masonite
24 x 36 inches
#8040
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, 1970
oil on canvas
66 x 50 inches
#7834
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, 1950
watermedia on paper
18 x 24 inches
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Holiday, 1964
oil and mixed media collage on canvas
51 x 41 inches
#1469
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Birds in a Tree, 1955
oil on canvas
70 1/2 x 79 1/2 inches
#7011
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
OUT, 1965
oil and collage on canvas
69 x 64 1/2 inches
#10318
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Study for Black Warrior, 1960
Oil and crayon on paper mounted to canvas
9 x 12 inches
#7852
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled , 1960
oil crayon on paper
18 x 24 inches
#2396
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled (Study for Black Warrior), 1960
oil, gouache and crayon on paper mounted to canvas
10 x 12 inches
#3434
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled (Study for Black Warrior), c. 1961
oil on paper mounted to canvas
9 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches
#4149
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled (Study for Black Warrior), 1961
oil, crayon, and pencil on paper
9 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches
#4419
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, 1956
oil on paper
17 x 22 inches
#5488
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Study for Black Warrior, 1960
oil and crayon on paper mounted to canvas
9 3/4 x 12 inches
#9460
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Bull, 1961
graphite on paper
18 x 24 inches
#11969
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1959
oil on paper
18 x 24 inches
#6550
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled Collage, 1967
mixed media on canvas
66 1/2 x 74 inches
#8199
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled , 1957
pastel on paper
11 x 14 inches
#5486
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Study for Black Warrior, 1960
oil on paper mounted to canvas
9 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches
#9459
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled (New Hope), c. 1956
pencil on paper
7 x 9 1/4 inches
#11961
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Chef, c. 1962
oil stick, charcoal and collage on paper
11 x 8 1/2 inches
#11962
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled (New Hope), c. 1957
on paper
10 x 7 7/8 inches
#11963
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled (New Hope), c. 1956
pastel and charcoal on paper
7 1/4 x 11 1/2 inches
#11964
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Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1955
pastel and pencil on paper
10 5/8 x 14 inches
#11965
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1957
pastel and graphite on paper
10 5/8 x 14 inches
#11966
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1950
gouache and ink on board
9 5/8 x 13 5/8 inches
#11967
Melville Price (1920 - 1970)
Untitled, c. 1961
oil on paper
18 x 24 inches
#6552