Description: Lowell Nesbitt
Violet Iris, 1966
oil on canvas
signed, dated and titled on verso
28 x 18 inches
Notes: Purchased from Christie’s, New York
Lowell Blair Nesbitt (October 4, 1933 – July 8, 1993) was a painter, draughtsman, printmaker and sculptor.
In 1958 the Baltimore Museum of Art hosted the first solo museum exhibit that Nesbitt was to have in his lengthy career, but it was in 1964 with his debut at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Museum) in Washington, D.C. that Nesbitt received greater recognition. The array of botanical works most likely would not have been created had it had not been for the beckoning of fellow artist Robert Indiana, who, in 1962, after viewing some of Lowell Nesbitt’s abstract paintings drawings and prints, suggested that he attempt to make a conversion from the abstraction which Nesbitt’s career had been focused on pre-1962, to the style of realism.
Nesbitt was often classified as a Photorealist artist, though he fought inclusion with this group of artists throughout his career. Nesbitt established himself as an artist who could employ both diversity of technique and subject matter while creating paintings, drawings and prints using studio interiors, articles of clothing, piles of shoes, x-ray figures (Nesbitt was the first highly recognized artist to use this subject matter since the artists of the New Zealand region unknowingly painted “x-ray style” figures at the early portion of the last millennium), caverns, ruins, landscapes, flowers, groupings of fruits and vegetables, and electronic components (he is credited for being the first artist to use computer parts as subject matter for his artwork). He also used his pet dogs in addition to birds, reptiles, various mammals and the Neoclassical facades of SoHo’s 19th century cast-iron buildings and several of Manhattan’s major bridges, in addition to a number of series in which he incorporated numerous Victorian staircases, and other interior scenes as subject matter for his artwork. His last series in the 1980s, titled the “impossible series” was a grouping of surrealistic landscapes paintings and drawings.
To honor Nesbitt’s contributions to the art world, in 1980, the United States Postal Service issued four stamps based on his floral paintings. He also served as the official artist for the NASA space flights of Apollo 9 and Apollo 13. Nesbitt was found dead in his New York studio in 1993 at the age of 59. Police stated he died of natural causes.
Nesbitt had purchased the former site of a police stable and Edward F. Knowles redesigned it. The area measured in excess of 12,500 square feet. This studio and living space included an indoor swimming pool, a four-story atrium and a rooftop entertainment area; Nesbitt labeled the facility “The Old Stable.” Nesbitt’s studio became a popular gathering place for major art world figures, celebrities and dignitaries including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Robert Motherwell, Larry Rivers and James Rosenquist. This monumental space was also featured in articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post in the late 1970s.