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Richard Warren Pousette-Dart was born in Saint Paul, Minesotta, on June 8, 1916. He began to paint at the age of eight, and was later educated in art, philosophy, music, and literature. In 1936 he enrolled in Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, but abandoned his studies before the end of the academic year in order to fully dedicate himself to painting and sculpture. To support himself, he found work as an assistant to sculptor Paul Manship. He later worked as a secretary in Lynn Morgan’s photography studio. He left this job in 1939, but always maintained a passion for photography.
In 1941, Pousette-Dart had his first solo show at the Artists Gallery of New York. Throughout the 1940s he participated in a number of important exhibitions, such as Forty American Moderns at Howard Putzel’s 67 Gallery, Spring Salon for Young Artists at Peggy Guggenheim’s museum-gallery Art of This Century, and annual exhibits at the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors. During these years, his technique became marked by a dramatic application of materials, pronounced gestures, and emphatic color, which were the stylistic principles practiced by the Abstract Expressionists.
In 1951, influenced by Eastern philosophy and American transcendentalism, Pousette-Dart decided to move to the country in order to concentrate on his artistic research. His paintings, together with those of his contemporaries William Baziotes, Arshile Gorky, and Jackson Pollock were shown for the first time in Europe in 1948, when Peggy Guggenheim showed her collection at the 24th Venice Biennale. Numerous solo shows of his work have been held in the world’s most prestigious museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1969–70) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1963, 1974, 1998). In 2007, his work was the subject of an itinerant exhibit held at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Galleria Gottardo in Lugano. Pousette-Dart died in New York on October 25, 1992.