Larry Day (1921-1998)


About Larry Day

Meredith Ward Fine Art is the exclusive representative of the estate of Larry Day. Like many artists of his generation, Day began his career as an abstractionist and created a series of lyrical nature abstractions in the 1950s. A chance experiment copying an Old Master painting in the early 1960s led Day to devote himself to figurative painting from that point on. As such, Day was among a small group of artists like Fairfield Porter, Richard Diebenkorn, and others who were working against the grain in a representational mode at a time when abstract art was ascendant.

Larry Day was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and after serving in the Pacific with the U.S. army during World War II, completed a BS and BFA at Temple University in 1950. In 1952-53 Day spent a year in Paris, and later in that decade led an art tour through Europe. On his return from Paris in 1953, Day began teaching at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, where he remained through 1988. His work is held by many important national and international museums, including the British Museum, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Day worked in an abstract mode until the early sixties when, while copying a Jan Steen, he decided that representational work was more challenging and fully engaging. Of this realization, he said, “I used to go around talking, lecturing, how non-representational art was the only real art… But in working on the Steen I remember painting the folds in the woman’s skirt and enjoying it and being moved by it. It was the act of doing it that made me realize that representational painting could be done in our time, that you could still do it and feel of your time… From then on I never did anything else.”

Day is known for his paintings of urban and suburban architectural subjects -- residential areas, construction sites, abandoned warehouses, and empty streets – in which to “study the effect of their multiple spaces, their projections and recesses, their openings and closures, their resistance to disclosure and their reluctant revelations.”