Harry Bowden (1907-1965), Untitled [figure drawing], charcoal on paper, 12 x 8 inches, estate stamped “H. Bowden”, c. 1960.
Harry Bowden was a Southern California native who studied and worked with Hans Hoffman in both California and in New York City. Bowden formally studied art at the Los Angeles Art Institute, Chouinard School of Art, and U.C. Berkeley. In New York City he painted murals for the Williamsburg Housing Authority and worked on another WPA project led by Fernand Leger with contemporaries Willem de Kooning and George McNeil.
Bowden was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists (1936-39). Gradually, he moved away from purely geometric work and created abstractions having a Cezanne-like distortion to them, favoring landscapes and cubist-influenced figures, such as this one.
Bowden also worked as a commercial artist, photographer, designer, and lithographer. His photographs of a young Willem De Kooning in his New York City studio have been reproduced many times.
Bowden had many art shows during his lifetime. In New York City he showed at the nonprofit Artists’ Gallery; the Egan Gallery; the Reinhardt Gallery; and the New School for Social Research. In San Francisco he exhibited at the Paul Elder Gallery; California School of Fine Arts; the De Young Museum; Gump’s; Galerie du Quartier; and East & West Gallery. He also had an exhibit at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.
In 1942, Bowden returned to California and settled in Sausalito.
The Harry Bowden Papers are housed in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
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