TWORKOV, JACK (1900–1982), U.S. educator, printmaker, painter. Tworkov was born in Biala, Poland and immigrated to the U.S. in 1913. He studied at Columbia University, the National Academy of Design, and the Art Students League. Tworkov worked as an artist for the Works Project Administration's Federal Art Project in 1935, where he met Willem de Kooning. Both men emerged as forces in the Abstract Expressionist movement. Tworkov was also one of the founders of The Club, a loose New York association of Abstract Expressionists which met to discuss matters relating to art making. Like many other Abstract Expressionists, Tworkov's early work consisted of figures and still-lifes. He also rendered images in a cubist style before adopting the visual aspects of Abstract Expressionism. As to be expected, his early work shared many stylistic characteristics with that of de Kooning. As Tworkov gained eminence along with his colleagues in the New York School representational subject matter became subsumed in abundantly textured long, dashing, diagonal brush strokes, as in his painting Blue Note from 1959. Among other influences, Tworkov also turned to the art of the marginalized Expressionist painter Chaim Soutine as a source of inspiration; in fact, Tworkov wrote an article on Soutine during the latter's 1950 show at MOMA. Tworkov achieved the illusion of vibrating and multiple fields or screens of color from a cool, restricted palette and subtle nuances of tone. Likely influenced by the Minimalists, Tworkov integrated grids and other ordering systems into his images from the 1960s onward, such as Shield (1961) and Variables II (1964–65). One of his major series of paintings, House of the Sun, refers to Ulysses, whose epic adventures suggested a variety of themes to the artist. Tworkov taught at numerous institutions: the American University, Black Mountain College (other luminaries of this period such as John Cage, Franz Kline, and Lyonel Feininger also taught here during the 1940s), Queens College, the Pratt Institute, and Yale University, where he functioned as chairman of the art department. He was a recipient of a Corcoran Gold Medal in 1963. Tworkov's art has been exhibited at numerous major museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Pennsylvania Academy, and the Whitney Museum, among other venues. His work is in the collections of the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.
D. Ashton, The New York School: A Cultural Reckoning (1972); Jack Tworkov: Paintings, 1950 – 1978 (Glasgow: Third Eye Center, 1979); I. Sandler, The Triumph of American Painting: A History of Abstract Expressionism (1970).
[Nancy Buchwald (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.