"It must be faced that for the painter there exists a spiritual power which communicates life and meaning to material forms and that he must achieve this power before taking part in the elaboration of forms." -Theodoros Stamos, 1954
In the 1940s Theodoros Stamos, still in his twenties, embarked on a series of paintings including Shofar in the Stone, which are characterized by their use of abstracted forms from the natural world. By the end of the decade Stamos had given up recognizable subject matter almost entirely as he began to experiment with the large fields of luminous color for which he is best known today.
Biomorphic forms—abstract shapes inspired by natural elements—were of interest to many American artists in the 1940s, including Stamos’s colleagues Mark Rothko and William Baziotes. In Shofar in the Stone one can pick out the light blue form of the shofar, a ceremonial horn, near the center of the composition. It is surrounded by a darker form—likely the stone—part of whose surface seems to be covered in a green mossy substance and which is topped by an orange leaf. A root-like (or possibly hand-like) shape extends downward into the brownish-gray soil.
When Stamos died in 1996 he left a handful of his early, transitional works to be given by his estate to museums. The Mint Museum was extremely fortunate to have been among the first institutions selected to receive one of these important paintings.
oil paint, Masonite (TM)
Measurements: height: 41.00 inches width: 26.50 inchesGift from the Savas Private Collection, Courtesy of Georgianna Statiatelos Savas, honoring the artist's wishes 2009.75 © Estate of Theodoros Stamos.
Currently on view at Mint Museum UPTOWN