Gregory Gillespie

GG 1b

SELF PORTRAIT, 1969, oil and temera, 11×16

“Since his first one-person exhibition, at Forum Gallery in 1966, Gregory Gillespie has been recognized as one of America’s most important and interesting contemporary artists. Defying categorization, Gillespie has painted memorable self-portraits, haunting fantasy landscapes, symbolic geometric abstractions and monumental dimensional paintings unlike any others.

Gregory Gillespie emerged from the wake of the New York School avant-garde scene of the 1950’s, rebelling against the ascendancy of the non-representational. Gillespie painted in the tradition of the Italian and Flemish masters, Masaccio and Carlo Crivelli, working in exorbitant, realistic detail, often trompe-loeil. His later work evolved into more experimental assemblages. Gillespie was an introspective artist, delving deep into the richness of his own psyche and documenting its interactions with a strange and overwhelming outside world.

At the young age of 41, Gillespie was the subject of a major retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum at the Smithsonian, a museum that would eventually own 14 of his paintings. Moving against a prevailing artistic climate that championed the abstract, he became known for meticulously painted figurative paintings, landscapes, and self portraits, His work often had a fantastical element, infusing the mundane with a complex and often contradictory spirituality. As Gillespie’s oeuvre continued to develop, his style became more diverse and he experimented with varied media, incorporating objects and photographs into his paintings.

The images have been rendered in almost microscopic detail. The individual hairs on Gillespie’s bare arms and legs, a reddish pimple on his calf, faint blue veins on his ankle have been faithfully represented as if the artist wished to push to its utmost the ability of the painted surface to stand for reality. And yet despite Gillespie’s obvious skill, it never seems that he is simply showing off.

“His aim is always to use his gifts in the interest of the painting, not as a tour de force,” says Stebbins. “There are always emotional, psychological, and physical layers to his work. He struggled with these paintings, scraping and sanding them down, then painting them over again. Nothing came easily.”

Gregory Gillespie’s paintings are included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the Georgia Museum of Art (Athens), the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond), the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art and the Wichita Art Museum. In 1994, Gregory Gillespie received the Augustus St. Gaudens Award from Cooper Union in New York. He lived in Massachusetts until his death in April, 2000.”

GG 2b

ROMAN LANDSCAPE, (Periphery), 1969, oil and tempera, 18×30

GG 3b GG 4b GG 5b GG 6b GG 7b GG 8b  GG 9b 

I think I may have picked this book up at the Hirshhorn Museum sometime in the 70’s. Since his stuff is so rare to see I’m glad I still have it. He is one of my favorite painters and if you ever get to see one of his real paintings you’ll see why.

GG 10b

Self Portrait, 1975 / Oil and magna on panel, 30 1/4 x 24 3/4 / Virginia Museum of Fine Arts / The Sydney and Francis Lewis Collections

GG 12

Got this from web, date unknown?


7 Responses to “Gregory Gillespie”

  1. November 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    One of the greatest American Painters ever. I’ve never understood why he isn’t a household name. Thanks for posting the stuff.

  2. November 26, 2009 at 10:06 am

    I got here via Benson. Totally blows me away. Truly astounding. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  3. 3 Peggy Gillespie
    January 11, 2010 at 12:32 am

    What a beautiful tribute to Greg (my late husband) and I agree, he was one of the greatest painters ever. I’m working on getting his work seen more widely….but it is hard these days. Any ideas are appreciated! Peggy Gillespie

    • 4 O3
      January 11, 2010 at 3:06 pm

      As I mentioned I treasure the book I have by him from way back when and I’m sure better scan’s could be done with more memories about the paintings. This WORDPRESS is a wonderful tool sharing images (etc.) and is easy to learn with a wealth of bloggers that all help each other.

      Also when paintings are photographed, I’m not sure what lense is used to prevent the bend of the image (maybe a format camera). I hope somebody helps you with all this and this was of some help.

      Gregory has been in my memory ever since I purchased this book from the Hirshhorn Museum. I’m really glad I did this post and hopefully will be able to see more of his (unseen)work in the future. Drawings and personal photographs would be wonderful also.

      Otway 3

  4. 5 michael
    January 26, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Peggy did you live with Greg on a farm in williamsburgh mass. in the 1970’s

    • 6 Peggy Gillespie
      March 5, 2010 at 7:25 am

      Michael–Greg was married then to Fran Gillespie, another artist, and had two young children. They moved to that farm in Williamsburg in 1970 from Italy. I lived next door to him with my first husband while I was finishing at Smith College and my husband and I got married there and were friends with Greg, and great admirers of his work. I stayed friends for many years. In 1978 or so, we got together but by then he was living in Amherst.

      • 7 N.
        March 6, 2012 at 1:02 am

        I own a used copy the Hirschhorn book published in 1977, bought from Strand in NYC many years ago. My books have been in storage for a few years and today I was replacing them on the shelves and came upon the Gillepse book. I spent some time with it and and as always when I’ve perused it, I was hungry to see more images. A web search led me here. I’m a painter and have admired Gillepse’s work although I’ve rarely have an opportunity to view it: just a few at major museums and at the Forum Gallery. I have no idea of the full range and development of his oeuvre and I’d love to have an opportunity to see more of his paintings in person, or failing that, a nice thick book of good reproductions.
        Thanks for the blog page.

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1984 Computer portrait from State Fair

July 2009
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