Theme/Style – Synchromism, Abstraction, figurative art, still lifes
Media – Oils, murals, watercolors, drawings
Artistic Focus – Noted for his use of vivid, lush, primary colors and his figurative abstractions, John Emmett Gerrity saw himself as a progressive, modern artist and strove throughout his career to find a visual idiom that was not wholly reliant on European or other stylistic traditions. The influence of Stanton Macdonald Wright is evident in all phases of Gerrity’s work, in which he consistently created form, depth and movement through controlled patterning and complexly organized chromatic juxtapositions.
Career Highlights –
- John Emmett Gerrity was born in 1895 in Los Altos, California, and in 1919 he began studying art both on his own and at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
- After working in stage set design, first in the Bay Area and then in New York, by 1926 Gerrity was back in California, teaching art from his home and studio in Berkeley.
- Throughout this early period there was correspondence between Gerrity and Macdonald Wright – Gerrity being the foremost exponent of Synchromism in the Bay Area.
- His work was frequently included in the Annual San Francisco Art Association Exhibitions from 1927 to 1931.
- In 1929 Gerrity was designated director of the San Francisco branch of the Los Angeles Art Students’ League, and in 1931 he wrote an art column for the San Francisco Call Bulletin and gave a series of fifteen lectures on color in Oakland.
- 1932 marked the opening of the first of Gerrity’s two one-man shows at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, the second taking place in 1955.
- Gerrity completed several WPA mural projects, culminating in his monumental mural Inventions of Man at the San Francisco State Teachers College.
Despite the fact that Gerrity’s health and his intensely personal artistic vision often alienated him from the main currents of the San Francisco art community, he worked enthusiastically through the 1970s. He passed away in Walnut Creek, California in 1980.