Friday, January 17, 2020

Gertrude Abercrombie, owls and UFOs

The Courtship
The Courtship by the surrealist painter, Gertrude Abercrombie. It is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. What's interesting is that there is a flying saucer over the man's head and an owl in the lower left. Was this "courtship" a sort of alien abduction? The man is wearing a villain's mask and he is "miming" a gun with his thumb and index finger. The woman is holding up her arms in apparent surrender. The painting was done in 1949, two years after Roswell, when flying saucers were a hot topic. Saucerian-looking, lenticular clouds appear in most of her other works.
I received this image in an email this morning from a reader named John. I immediately started searching out her paintings. Click on any image for a HIrez view.
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Gertrude Abercrombie (February 17, 1909 – July 3, 1977) was an American painter based in Chicago. Called "the queen of the bohemian artists." She was involved in the Chicago jazz scene and was friends with musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Sarah Vaughan, whose music inspired her own creative work.
Owl and the Moon
Many compositions feature a lone woman in a flowing gown, often depicted with attributes of sorcery: an owl, a black cat, a crystal ball, or a broomstick. These works were often self-portraits, as she stated in an interview with Studs Terkel shortly before her death: "it is always myself that I paint." Tall and sharp-featured, she considered herself ugly; in life she sometimes wore a pointed velvet hat to accentuate her witch-like appearance, she enjoyed the power this artifice gave her over others who would fear or recoil from her.

(text from Wikipedia)
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  for more examples of her work, click HERE  


  1. Thanks for that link to those paintings Mike, as I find her work very Jungian and soul stirring on some level.
    I've never heard of this artist before, so I guess I have you to thank for finding her artworks for me.
    I found it amusing that another Knowles was mentioned at the top of that bloggers blog -

    "Thank you to Content Love Knowles for introducing me to her work.
    Knowles will be playing Abercrombie in a performance art work at the Vortex Theater here in Austin."

    So maybe we both have Knowles to thank for pointing out Abercrombie's art?

  2. Wow, cool! Just now looked up your blog find the account of you´re important regression experience of a life as a painter in England (a friend told me of having lived as a gay man over there as well, in the 18oos, and that reminded me of what you wrote about this). So, very fitting to find this interesting post about... a painter:). /Mathias S.


  3. The images are very dream like. The darkness of the scenes seem to suggest night-time (dream-time). A great find. I am reminded of a trip I once took to London, in the hotel room was a framed picture featuring a flying saucer - it made me laugh out loud! One of those kooky synchronicities! It doesn’t matter where you are, whatever this is, is with you.


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