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Gaylor, Adelaide Lawson

(1889-1986) Born in New York City, modernist Adelaide Jaffrey Lawson Gaylor studied at the Art Students League and with Kenneth Hayes Miller. She was a member of the Society of Independent Artists, the Salons of America, and the New York Society of Women Artists. She was married to artist Wood Gaylor, who studied with Walt Kuhn at the National Academy of Design and exhibited with him in the Armory Show of 1913. The Gaylors were active in the New York art world and the list of their colleagues -- from Marsden Hartley, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Peggy Bacon, Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney, Betty and John Dos Passos, Fiorello La Guardia, and Josephine Baker -- reads like a who's who of early 20th century New York culture. Adelaide Gaylor exhibited at the Society of Independent Artists, the Salons of America, the Whitney Studio Club and the Whitney Museum and in several New York galleries. She was particularly close to John Dos Passos, to whom she taught painting, and who was known to refuse to exhibit in all-male venues that would not also show Gaylor’s work. Adelaide Gaylor was apparently raised in an affluent and well-educated family. Her brother John Howard Lawson was a successful screenwriter and playwright until his career was derailed by the infamous "Red Scare" of the 1950s. Adelaide Gaylor participated in the inaugural Tanner Art League exhibit of 1922, organized by African-American artists in Washington, D.C. in honor of African-American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner. Her works focus on people of varying color and ethnicity, portrayed with energy and directness; they are usually figurative and rendered in a naive style. Frequently her subjects gaze out directly at the viewer and appear to be disassociated from their surroundings or movements; figures of disparate proportions mingle, regardless of their location in the foreground, middle ground, or distance. Gaylor’s compositional playfulness is counteracted by the expressions of her subjects, who seem puzzled, thoughtful, or disconcerted and her deceptively simple works create moods and situations with provocative implications.

Title: Circus
Medium: oil/artist board 15" x 20"


Title: Cleaning the Catch
Medium: oil on canvas, estate stamp, 24" x 17-1/4"

Title: Taking a Break
Medium: oil on artist board, estate stamp, 23-3/4" x 17.5"

Title: Tenements
Medium: watercolor and pencil, signed lower right, 12" x 9"