Seattle’s Frederick Holmes and Company is currently presenting Rolph Scarlett: Legacy Lost and Found, a comprehensive survey of Modernist painter, Rolph Scarlett (1889-1984), featuring over 40 original paintings and works on paper – non-objective, abstract, and figurative – dating from the 1930’s through the early 1960’s; the largest gallery exhibition ever presented in the Pacific Northwest.
Any presentation on the legacy of Scarlett has to include the history of the Guggenheim Museum’s founding, which was the peak of Scarlett’s career. Canadian-born Rolph Scarlett was one of the founding artists of Solomon Guggenheim’s original museum which opened in 1938: The Museum of Non-objective Painting. He became the third most highly collected artist among Guggenheim’s vast holdings which comprised the Museum’s permanent collection.
Through the Museum’s founding curator and director, Baroness Hilla Rebay’s zealous leadership and advocacy of this radical avant-garde genre of painting and philosophy, the museum became a groundbreaking institution in New York, attracting collectors, critics, and artists. Rolph Scarlett was introduced to non-objective in 1923 through a chance meeting in Geneva with Paul Klee. In 1938, after submitting a portfolio of gouaches one paper to Baroness Rebay, he was awarded a Guggenheim Grant which was enough to allow him to paint full-time. Described by Rebay as her “greatest find”, Scarlett became one of the exhibiting artists as well as a featured lecturer at the Museum on the principles of non-objective painting.
Today, Roph Scarlett is increasingly praised as one of the important contributors to the canon of American Modern. The exhibition is presented in cooperation with the Weinstein Collection, San Francisco, and runs through November 30.