Alfred Henry Maurer
Still Life with Apple and Roll, c. 1929
Oil on board
19 x 21 ½ inches
Signed lower left
Maurer is often acknowledged as the first American modernist painter. The son of a Currier and Ives artist, he joined the family lithographic business before studying at the National Academy of Fine Arts and in Paris. He progressed through a number of dramatic stylistic phases—aestheticism, Ashcan School, tonalism, and fauvism—and his work was exhibited in Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 Galley and in the Armory Show of 1913. In the 1920s Maurer became an important artistic pioneer of synthetic cubism. The works he produced between 1927 and 1932 are expressive of his unique style and are acknowledged as his most innovative.
Still Life with Apple and Roll exemplifies Maurer’s mastery of synthetic cubism. Here he explores the effects of abstraction and color through overlapping geometric forms, layered onto the panel with semitransparent paint. Boldly outlined shapes suggesting an apple and a roll are intersected by planes of expressive color and form. Maurer’s celebrated cubist phase was short-lived; he took his own life in 1932 following the death of his father.