Kenneth Stubbs
(American artist, 1907-1967)

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From Realism to Abstract

The Franz Bader Gallery is currently holding a one-man show of the wellknown Washington painter, Kenneth Stubbs. The artist has lived here for the past 35 years, and studied painting at the Corcoran School and in Provincetown. He has taught at the Corcoran School since 1935, and at George Washington University since 1940.

Stubbs exhibits regularly in local shows and has held six one-man exhibitions. The two artists he mentions as influencing him most strongly are Piero della Francesca and Juan Gris, traces of whose work are apparent in the paintings

Stubbs has no single technique which distinguishes his work; he varies his technique to suit the subject or his immediate treatment of it. The painting changes from a group of rather undefined water colors done in pastel shades, and simplified casein landscapes with muted tones in the classical manner, to strongly defined semi-abstractions and abstractions with strong color and precise outlines. In addition to those, he shows a group of superb line drawings which clearly reveal his fine draftsmanship. Each technique is well handled, although it is hard to believe the same hand is responsible for such a variety of approaches.

The paintings have additional interest because they trace the artist's method as he moves from realism to abstraction. Starting with such a picture as "Positano," where the village is presented in a manner only slightly simplified in pattern, the artist moves to a near-abstract approach in "Provincetown Roofs," in which the grass in the foreground and the sunlight between the houses have lost their natural look in favor of abstracted, accented pattern.

From here Stubbs moves with increasing insistence into pattern and color, giving such a painting as "Wharf Still Life" a rhythmic pattern and dynamic color scale that transform it into a striking design, where relation to objects in nature has become almost coincidental. This is carried further in "Pitchers," one of the handsomest paintings in the show, where singing color and strong pattern completely overwhelm the subject.

Stubbs is a masterly draftsman and a fine colorist. While the paintings do not seem to exist in space, they have a surface rhythm and excitement that cannot be denied.

Leslie Judd Portner, Washington Post, February 13, 1955, page E7