Saint SebastianMy father-in-law, Alfred Russell, died a few weeks ago. He was an amazing painter and a really eccentric person. He was one of the hottest Paris/New York abstractionist painters in the 40’s and 50’s. Ad Reinhardt was the best man at his wedding; he got Rothko his first teaching job; was friends/enemies with all the big names but because of his notorious provocateur spirit he never got rich while all of his equals sold their souls to the rich for millions of dollars. A famous article in October Magazine started the trend, when he lamented the ‘easy abstraction’ of the minimalists – mainly poking at Rothko and later Reinhardt.

He was a big modern music fan, amateur flutist and close friend of Edgard Varèse who in a Paris cafe once wrote him a solo flute piece which has never been premiered. I’ve got a mimeograph of it somewhere in a closet he gave me, but we’ve been looking for the original for years to prove it’s legitimacy.

Roberta Smith writes about him today in the New York Times – Alfred Russell, Painter with a Classical Style Dies at 87. Here are a few of his paintings from our site – Works of Alfred Russell. No need to offer condolences…

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