Helen Torr

Helen Torr
American 1886 – 1967
Veneer and Grapes, 1930-1931
Oil on board
27 x 18 7/8 inches

Estate of the Artist
Private collection, Houston TX

Artist Description

Helen Torr was born into a somewhat well-connected but hardly affluent Philadelphia family. She attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts on scholarship and about 1913 married former Academy student Clive Weed. Weed was a talented cartoonist and a charming, though difficult, man. The couple lived first in New York, then in Philadelphia and around 1919, moved near Westport, Connecticut. They soon became friendly with a group of writers and artists in the area, among them Arthur Dove.

Helen Torr and Arthur Dove found themselves to be kindred spirits and in 1920 began living together on a houseboat in the Harlem River. Subsequently they bought the forty-two foot auxiliary yawl Mona, on which they lived in Long Island Sound from 1923 to 1929, spending several winters in rented or borrowed houses. In 1929 they moved into the Ketewomoke Yacht Club.

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.” Torr’s work was exhibited a second time in 1933 in a joint exhibition with her husband, Arthur Dove, at Alfred Stieglitz’s An American Place gallery.

It was said, perhaps by Helen Torr herself, that her husband, the great modernist painter, Arthur Dove, looked outside to the whole of nature for inspiration, whereas Torr went outside to gather single objects like feathers, leaves or stones, which she would then bring inside and assemble into still lifes.

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