About the Artist:
Born in Townsend, MT, Meloy was raised on the family ranch, where he and his siblings were encouraged to pursue their creative interests as children. His parents arranged for a year of study with the landscape painter Elmer Boone, and meanwhile Meloy took correspondence courses in commercial art. Visiting friends in Chicago, a trip to that city’s Art Institute so moved him that he decided to enroll there, marking a change in plans and the “divide between a reliable career in commercial art and a more risky career in painting” (citation). Meloy relocated to New York in 1926, studying first with Robert Henri at the National Academic of Design and then John Carroll at the Art Students’ League. Meloy was influenced by the Ashcan School’s urban realism, sketching on New York’s busy streets and while riding its subway: “These urban portraits convey Meloy’s interest for the whole of life’s volume and mass. The movement of fast-paced New York is depicted through sweeping caricature into beautiful line figures in motion, changing light, and telling environmental information” (citation). During the late 1920s and early ‘30s Meloy supported himself, in part, through illustrations for western and outdoor magazines. Beginning in 1933 he created works for the WPA, including its Easel Art division. During 1941-42 he painted a mural, Flathead War Party, for the US Post Office in Hamilton, MT that still remains. Beginning in 1940 Meloy taught art at Columbia University, where he became intrigued by the more abstract painting of artists like Henri Matisse, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock. In a letter concerning his new experiments with color, line, and shape he wrote, “I want to fit in and at the same time I want to be alive and contribute something of myself” (Rodriguez). Meloy died suddenly in 1951, while waiting for a train in Grand Central Station. 2 works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2 works at the Brooklyn Museum. 3 works at the Yellowstone Art Museum. 18 works at Montana Museum of Art & Culture. 4 more images at FAP. His papers and approximately 4,000 oil paintings are the Montana Museum of Art and Culture.
Sources Consulted: Gordon McConnell, “Henry Meloy: Record of a Life,” Henry Meloy: Five Themes, 1945-1951 (Yellowstone Art Center, 1990); Kathryn Lorraine Rodriguez, Henry Meloy: The Portraits, A Narrative of the Exhibition (MA Thesis at University of Montana, 2008)
Cooper, Ken (biography)
jpeg, 12.5 MB