Alice Trumbull Mason
Alice Trumbull Mason (1904–1971) was an American painter and printmaker. She was descended from renowned history painter John Trumbull through her father. Beginning in 1921, she studied art in Rome, attending the British Academy in 1923. She settled in New York by 1927 and took classes at the National Academy of Design and the Grand Central Art Galleries until 1931, where she was taught by artist Arshile Gorky who introduced her to European modernists. While her earlier works were biomorphic or pure abstraction, her knowledge of Byzantine architecture later infused her compositions with an architectural dimension. Trumbull Mason wrote that she became devoted to abstraction in 1929, "[A]fter happily painting these realistic things, I said to myself, 'What do I really know?' I knew the shape of my canvas and the use of my colors and I was completely joyful not to be governed by representing things anymore." Trumbull Mason married Warwood Mason in 1928 or 1930.
While her two children were small, she took up poetry and corresponded with Gertrude Stein before resuming her painting in 1934. By the mid-1930s Alice Trumbull Mason was one of the leading abstract artists in New York. Together with 38 other artists, Trumbull Mason formed American Abstract Artists. She had her first solo exhibition in 1942 at the Museum of Living Art at New York University. Trumbull Mason studied etching in 1944 and continued to experiment with other forms of printmaking. Her works received little recognition while she was alive. After the death of her son in 1958, she struggled with depression and alcoholism. She painted her last work in 1969 and died in New York City in 1971. Two years later the Whitney Museum of American Art hosted a retrospective exhibition of her works.