Claude Buck: Mother and Child, 1925. Classic theme. Oil on board,, art is 5 x 8, in gold frame 9.5 x 12.75. Striking red, almost orange hair on the mother and the red of her garment.
Claude Buck started to paint when he was very young and at the age of eight applied to be a copyist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum rejected him because of his age, but Buck kept asking and three years later was finally granted permission to copy the old master paintings. He was the youngest artist ever to study at the National Academy of Design, where he spent eight years creating works inspired by romantic literature. In 1917, Buck founded the Introspectives, a group of four painters who created surreal images and believed that “the poetry of a picture means more . . . than the imitation or even the representation of nature” (Eldredge, “Claude Buck and the Introspectives,” The Shape of the Past, 1981). Later in his career, however, he completely rejected these strange, dreamlike themes and joined the Society for Sanity in Art, which celebrated straightforward, representational painting. (Berney, “Claude Buck: His Life and Art,” Antiques and Fine Art, August 1989)
Claude Buck was born in New York City on July 3, 1890 (died 1974, Santa Barbara). His father was a traditionally trained, commercial artist, and introduced Buck to drawing at age 4. The young Buck copied Greek classics at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and at age 14 entered the National Academy of Design, taking classes in still life with Emil Carlsen, figure drawing with Francis Jones, and figure painting George DeForest Brush. He studied there until age 22, receiving eight prizes. Buck then studied in Munich and upon his return began a busy schedule of exhibitions.
He moved to Chicago in 1919, teaching painting for some years at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago (SAIC), and becoming a leading member of an avant-garde symbolist artists’ group known as the Introspectives. The group, whose members shared an approach to expressing subjective emotion and experience in their work, included, both Rudolph Weisenborn and Emil Armin. Buck, a modernist, was influenced by writers Edgar Allen Poe and William Blake and eccentric visionary painters Ralph Blakelock and Albert Pinkham Ryder. He often depicted allegories and literary themes drawn from Romantic sources such as Poe’s poetry, operas by Richard Wagner, as well as classical mythology and the New Testament. He made highly finished still lifes and “hyperrealistic” portraits to support himself and his family. Buck spent the last years of his life in Santa Cruz, and is often considered a California artist despite his deep connections to Chicago.