Ossorio image

  • Ossorio gouache watercolor, ink on paper, untitled

The Windgate Foundation has issued a challenge grant of $100,000 to the Arkansas Arts Center as a match for “new money” — from new donors, members who’ve let their memberships lapse, etc. It’s not a billion, which the Walton Family Foundation has poured into Crystal Bridges Museum, but it will be a refreshing sip for the Arts Center.


Also at the board meeting yesterday, where a bequest of $225,000 was announced, director Todd Herman revealed that the Arts Center Foundation has made seven new acquisitions for the permanent collection.

In what I hope to make a regular feature on works of art in Arkansas museums, here’s some information about one of those acquisitions, the Alfonso Ossorio above, sent to Eye Candy by Herman:


Born into a wealthy family in the Philippines, Alfonso Ossorio was educated in England and came to the U.S. at the age of 14. He studied Fine Art at Harvard University and the Rhode Island School of Design. During World War II, Ossorio worked as a medical illustrator specializing in arterio-vascular and neuro-surgery. After the war, Ossorio incorporated this training into a style that relied heavily on the surrealist influences coming out of Europe—the result of avant-garde artists and psychoanalysts fleeing Europe during the War—that was fueling a new group of artists in New York in the 1940s. Members of that group, including Ossorio, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Barnett Newman would go on to form the nucleus of the Abstract Expressionist movement. A year after this drawing was executed, Ossorio met Jackson Pollock and the two became life-long friends. Not only did Ossorio actively collect Pollock’s work, his own style began to take on the ‘all over’ gestural signature that Pollock made famous. In this drawing, however, Ossorio combines his training as a medical illustrator, his fascination with the interlocking rhythms of medieval illuminated manuscripts, the symbolic world of the subconscious and his ongoing struggles with the human conditions of life, death, spirituality and the wounds of the world.