Theodoros Stamos

American, 1922–1997

Dark Field, 1961

Oil on canvas

57 x 35 inches

A major force in Abstract Expressionism, Stamos was one of the original (and youngest) members of the movement. Born in New York to Greek immigrant parents, Stamos received a scholarship to attend the American Artists’ School in New York to study sculpture at the age of 13. Although he showed great promise, Stamos dropped out of school to pursue painting and quickly became a prominent member of the New York art scene. Influenced by the surrealist art movement, Stamos began painting biomorphic forms, but he progressed dramatically during his career and his paintings evolved into expressive color field works.

The enormous paintings he created late in his career were strong and dominant, thought provoking and ambiguous. In Dark Field, one of the high points of his career, Stamos used a massive canvas to depict an explosion of color. Like his colleagues Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, he played with translucent washes of black and white paint and added a burst of orange. He once said, “The great figurative painters were involved with grandeur of vision, using the figure as a means to an end, whereas today the best of the abstract painters are also involved with a grandeur of vision using color as their means toward a new space-light.”