Featured Acquisition: Ann Purcell, “Kali Poem No. 32”

Ann Purcell (b. 1941)

“Kali Poem No. 32” ,1986 

Acrylic on canvas

76 x 66 inches


Private collection, Washington, D.C.

Ann Purcell was born in 1941 in Washington, D.C. and raised in Arlington, Virginia.  She undertook independent  art studies in Mexico from 1969 to 1971, and had a solo exhibition at Villa Roma Gallery in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico the last year of her stay.

She received her B.A.in painting from the Corcoran College of Art and Design and George Washington University, Washington, D.C., in 1973. While finishing her degree, Purcell took a summer course with Washington Color School painter Gene Davis, who became her mentor and lifelong friend. Her development was also shaped by the artist’s colony at Provincetown, Massachusetts. There she was introduced to Robert Motherwell, from whose work Purcell has drawn much inspiration. Other sources of influence for Purcell are the cutouts of Matisse and paintings by Helen Frankenthaler and Mark Rothko.

As part of a six-artist show at the Corcoran in September 1976, a critic stated: “Ann Purcell may be the one painter here to achieve a personal mood. She draws and paints like an Abstract Expressionist, spreads pigment like a color field painter, uses color like a Darby Bannard or a Richard Diebenkorn, but adds a gentleness all her own” (Barbara Gold, “Five Plus One at Corcoran,” The Baltimore Sun, September 26, 1976).

The “Kali Poem” series was inspired from May Sarton’s 1971 poem of invocation to the Hindu goddess.

Purcell taught painting, drawing, and art history for many years at The Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington, DC, The Smithsonian Institution and Parsons School of Art in New York. She has been a guest lecturer and artist-in-residence of various universities and a recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in Painting, The Lester Hereward Cooke Foundation Grant for Mid-Career Achievement in Painting from The National Gallery of Art, a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, Gottlieb Grant and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant.

She has had numerous solo and group exhibitions at prestigious galleries around the country including: Berry Campbell Gallery and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York City; Hokin Gallery in Chicago, Palm Beach, and Bay Harbor Island in Miami; Dart Gallery, Chicago; Bernard Jacobson Gallery in New York; and Osuna Gallery in Washington, DC., Miami, and Coconut Grove, Florida; and the Misrachi Gallery in Mexico City.

Purcell’s work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; the Baltimore Museum of Art; the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; the American University Museum, Katzen Arts Center, Washington, D.C.;  the Embassy of Italy, Washington, D.C.; the Santa Barbara Museum; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond;  the Salt Lake City Museum, Utah; Vesti Industries, Cambridge, Massachusetts; and the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.