Esteban Vicente was a renowned abstract painter who has long been celebrated for his elegant color combinations, bold scale, and ineffably lyrical compositions. Known as a central member of the first generation of the New York School abstract expressionists, Vicente created a vibrant body of work exceptional in its poetic colors and delicate shapes.His paintings are characterized by their spatial patchwork of color in atmospheric hues that call into question the relationship between center and edge, mass and volume. He sought inspiration from landscapes – first from his native Spain and later from his garden in Bridgehampton, New York – capturing the ever evolving, luminous qualities of light and color that is be found in the natural world.
Vicente was born in Turégano, Spain in 1903. At fifteen years old, Vicente began at the School of Fine Arts of the Real Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. As a young man living in Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris, he developed friendships with artists and writers. In 1928, he had his first exhibition with Juan Bonafé at the Ateneo de Madrid.
Vicente left Europe for New York City in 1936. The United States became the artist’s permanent home. His contemporaries and associates included Willem de Kooning, Elaine de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Barnett Newman, and Ad Reinhardt.Vicente spent a large portion of his career teaching. He was among the faculty at Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, NC; the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, New York, NY; and the University of California, Berkeley, CA, among other institutions. Near the end of his life, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente, a museum in his honor, was opened in Segovia by the Spanish government. Vicente attended the museum’s opening in 1998.
Vicente’s works can be found in important collections and museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, among others.