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  • Julius Tobias

    United States

    Art Brokerage: Julius Tobias American Artist: b. 1915-1999. Born in 1915 in Harlem, Tobias was inspired to become an artist at a young age after seeing an image of Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy (1770). He began his studies in the evenings at the American Art School soon after while also maintaining his day job as an elevator operator and later as a postal worker. Tobias enlisted in the Air Force in 1942 and was stationed in England throughout the war. He flew B16 bombers in raids over Germany until being shot down over Switzerland on his 26th mission. Before he could arrange to rejoin his unit in England, Tobias spent some time in Adelboden, Switzerland, where he met and befriended the widow of German expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, whose collection of early 20th century expressionist paintings he found greatly impressive. Julius Tobias began his artistic career painting in an abstract expressionist mode before moving into the monumental sculpture for which he is most remembered, and painting continued to be an important aesthetic outlet throughout his working life. By 1946 he was showing at the Provincetown Art Association, then a hotbed of activity for the nascent abstract expressionist movement due to its proximity to Hans Hofmann’s pioneering art school and its popularity as a summer alternative to the sweltering city among many New York artists. Tobias’ paintings from the 1950s and 1960s employ the thick, expressionistic brushstrokes and broad areas of color that were hallmarks of the New York School, as well as an insistent materiality of paint and emphasis on surface that was championed by critics such as Clement Greenberg. However, Tobias did not adhere to strict Greenbergian abstraction. Many of these works are evocative of sky or landscape, vistas that Tobias would have been intimately familiar with from his experience as a bomber pilot during the Second World War. He has written that “there is no such thing as abstraction as differentiated from reality—all abstraction is based on reality and is reality. You can see abstraction wherever you go—clouds, sidewalks, sides of wall. It is not necessary to see things as objects only.” Tobias’ brushwork also often has a distinct directionality, lending his work a sense of motion that energizes his painted surfaces. Listings wanted.

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