Hilda Thorpe

Visual Elements and Design/ Sculptor:
Sky Cloud
Rolling Thunder
Exhibition by Thorpe in Fairfax County, Virginia

Hilda Shapiro Thorpe (1920-2000) was an American sculptor and painter and part of The Washington Color School. Thorpe was a versatile and much-heralded artist who taught a generation of metro Washington, D.C. artists. See, Hilda Thorpe: Sculpture, Paperwork, Painting 1963-1988; Introduction and catalog essays by Elizabeth Tebow; Organized and edited by Lois McArdle.

She was one of the few females who was part of this visual-art movement of the late 1950s through the mid-1960s. The Washington Color School was originally a group of painters who showed works in the “Washington Color Painters” exhibit at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art in Washington, DC from June 25-September 5, 1965. The exhibition subsequently traveled to several other venues in the United States, including the Walker Art Center. The exhibition’s organizer was Gerald “Gerry” Nordland and the painters included Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Gene Davis, Howard Mehring, Thomas “Tom” Downing, Paul Reed and Hilda Thorpe.

The Washington Color School artists painted largely abstract works, and were central to the larger color field movement. Though not generally considered abstract expressionists, in so far as much of their work is more orderly than—and not apparently motivated by the philosophy behind—abstract expressionism, there are parallels between the Washington Color School and the abstract expressionists largely to their north in New York City. Minimally, the use of stripes, washes, and fields of single colors of paint on canvas were common to most artists in both groups.

Works: Dance for the Earth/ Rolling Thunder (1992); Dance for the Earth/ Rolling Thunder (1992)