Andrew Shunney (1916-1978)

Geraniums, oil on canvas, (30″ x 40″) According to the estate, this was Andrew Shunney’s last painting; offered at auction on July 4, 2009.

Born in Attleboro, Massachusetts, Shunney studied at the Rhode Island School of Design. He later took up residency in Manhattan, where he attended the Art Students League, and studied under Yasuo Kuniyoshi. In 1946, Shunney benefited from a four year period of “master criticism” under Diego Rivera, a Master who disliked the term “pupil” and wanted no disciples. Still searching, Shunney next headed for Paris, hoping for inspiration in the work of the French Impressionists. There he painted the streets of Paris, and the landscapes of Honfleur and Cannes. Before leaving France in 1950, he received an invitation to exhibit in the prestigious Salon d’Automne.

Andrew Shunney’s signature style is very much a product of an exceptionally fertile period in Western – and particularly, in American – modern art history. He was a disciplined colorist whose preference for thick impasto applied with a palate knife, invoked a surreal abstraction to minimalist compositions.

From the early ’50’s until his death, Andrew Shunney and his life-partner Charles Maguire wintered in Palm Beach, where Shunney was represented by the Palm Beach Galleries. They summered on Nantucket, where he first kept a studio on Straight Wharf, and later joined his peers, Ralph Cahoon, Polly & Bobby Bushong, Roy Baily, Irmgard Arvin, Nathaniel Benchley, Elizabeth Saltonstall and Mary Sarg-Murphy, at George Vigouroux’s Lobster Pot Gallery. By 1971 Shunney had earned a one man exhibition at the Hammer Galleries in NYC. His was an uncompromising quest for his own artistic voice, a distinguished career; a relevant body of work.

by Carolyn Walsh

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