Ivan Albright (1897 - 1983)
Sleep, I Sleep and in my Sleep I Dream and in my Dream, I am Awake, n.d.
Oil on silk
7 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches
Signed at lower right: Ivan Albright
Original Heydenryk frame
The artist, Vermont, November 12, 1974
Ivan Le Lorraine Albright was an American magic realist painter and artist, most renowned for his self-portraits, character studies, and still lifes. He was born near Chicago in North Harvey, Illinois. His father was a landscape painter, and came from a family of master gunsmiths, whose original name was Albrecht. He enrolled in The Art Institute of Chicago to study painting and particularly admired the work of El Greco and Rembrandt, but was quick to develop a style all his own.
Albright attended Northwestern University, but dropped out and took up studies in architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During World War I he did medical drawings for a hospital in Nantes, France, morbid work that probably influenced his later style. After working in architecture and advertising briefly he was pushed away by commercialism and took seriously to painting. After living in Philadelphia through most of 1925 and 1926, he returned to Illinois, where he began to achieve some substantial success, having his first show in 1930.
He won the top prize at three major exhibitions in New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia in 1941. The prize at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York earned him a $3,500 purchase award and a place in the permanent collection, but, not willing to part with the work for less than $125,000, Albright took the First medal instead, allowing him to keep the painting. Albright was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1942.
In 1943 he was commissioned to create the title painting for Albert Lewin's film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. His realistic, but exaggerated, depictions of decay and corruption made him very well suited to undertake such a project. This original painting currently resides in the Art Institute of Chicago.
Later in life Albright lived in Woodstock, Vermont. His last visit to his old home town of Warrenville, Illinois was in 1978. The city declared Ivan Albright Day, and honored Albright with a full day of festivities. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1979.
On the 100th anniversary of Ivan Albright’s birth, February 20, 1997, the Art Institute of Chicago opened a major show of his work. Appears the Man, a photograph of Ivan Albright and his most famous work, The Picture of Dorian Gray, can be found in the Art Institute of Chicago.