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Jack Tworkov

American Painter

Jack Tworkov Photo

Born: August 15, 1900 - Biala Podlaska, Poland

Died: September 4, 1982 - Provincetown, Massachusetts

Summary of Jack Tworkov

Not necessarily a household name, Jack Tworkov nonetheless inhabited a central position in the formation of Abstract Expressionism in the middle of the 20th century. He was not known for the carousing and drinking of some of his more famous colleagues, but his dedication to self-exploration through the painting process embodied the ethos and intellectual curiosity of the downtown art scene. Using bold gestural strokes, Tworkov explored the gray areas between figuration and abstraction and flatness and illusionistic depth. A dedicated teacher for many decades, his later forays into more geometric and linear compositions sparked dialogues with younger artists and artistic styles such as Minimalism and Post-Minimalism.

Key Ideas

Like many American artists at the time, Tworkov worked his way through European styles before embracing bold gestural painting, but Tworkov always spoke of the importance of these precursors and influences and insisted that all art was in dialogue with each other.
Throughout much of his career, Tworkov retained figurative elements in his paintings. While relinquishing recognizable figures, Tworkov abstracted body parts to shapes and lines, suggestive of the human form without being illustrative. Tworkov relished this ambiguity and the ways in which it would bring the viewer into the painting.
In many ways Tworkov embodied the tenets of Action Painting, creating a dialogue between colors and forms by responding to each stroke of paint as he placed it on the canvas, but he also increasingly relied on an underlying geometric, or grid, structure to construct his complex compositions.
Jack Tworkov Photo

Jack Tworkov, born Yakov Tworkovsky, was born to tailor Hyman Tworkovsky and Ester Singer in Biala Podlaska, a village on the border of Poland and the Russian Empire. Tworkov's father was a widower with five children, while his mother was a divorceé with no children. This made childhood tense for Tworkov, as there was significant hostility toward his mother from her stepchildren. Biala Podlaska was a garrison town at the time, and Tworkov's father worked for the Russian Army. Tworkov's father emigrated to start a tailor shop on Ludlow Street in Manhattan, followed in September 1913 by Tworkov, his mother, and younger sister, Janice.

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