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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 803


This is the grave of Mary Cecil Allen.

Born in Melbourne in 1893 (definitely the first Aussie in the series!), Allen grew up wealthy. Her father was the Dean of Medicine at the University of Melbourne. Going by Cecil and not Mary, she decided to go to art school at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School. She rose fairly rapidly in the Australian art world in the 1920s and had a show for herself at the Fine Art Society at Melbourne. She started experimenting in modernism. In the mid 1920s, she started touring and speaking in art in Europe and the U.S. She quickly fell in love with New York and decided to live there, more or less permanently.

By the 1930s, Allen fully converted to modernist art. She organized the first all-Australian art show in New York in 1930 where the critics noted how much more advanced her work was then most of the other artists, who were seen as quite a bit more conservative. She painted a lot of abstract paintings of New York infrastructure. Her work was considered so radical for a time that some found it far beyond the norm and made her less popular.

In 1949, Allen moved out to the Provincetown Art Colony at the end of Cape Cod. She occasionally went back to Australia and gave talks. In the end, Allen is a fairly minor artist in the larger pantheon but a more than worthy contributor to the world of art.

In 1962, Allen was found dead in her chair in home. Seems to have been something called sinoatrial arrest, which isn’t something I’m real familiar with. She was 68 years old.

Let’s take a look at some of Allen’s work:

Sorrento Hotel
Near Yarck, Victoria
Manhattan, early 1950s
Eildon Weir, dusk, 1960

Mary Cecil Allen is buried in Provincetown, Cemetery, Provincetown, Massachusetts.

If you like this series to visit other female artists, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Louise Bourgeois is in Cutchogue, New York and Augusta Savage is in Hartsdale, New York. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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