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Veneer and Grapes, 1930-31
Oil on board
27 x 18 7/8 inches
Helen Torr was born into a somewhat well-connected but hardly affluent Philadelphia family and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts on scholarship. She first married cartoonist Clive Weed and moved to the Westport, Connecticut area around 1913. They soon became friendly with a group of writers and artists in the area, among them Arthur Dove, with whom Torr would eventually remarry. Helen Torr exhibited her work twice during her lifetime; first in 1927, when Georgia O'Keeffe included Torr in an exhibition at the Opportunity Gallery. In 1933 she again exhibited in a joint exhibition with her husband at Alfred Stieglitz's An American Place gallery.
It is said, perhaps by Torr herself, that while her husband, a great modernist painter, looked outside to the whole of nature for inspiration, Torr would only venture outside to gather single objects such as feathers, leaves or stones, which she would then bring inside and assemble into still lifes.