Signed and dated (at lower right): C.H.H. '36 Charles Howard never had formal art instruction, but his keen eye, depth of feeling, and nearly obsessive commitment to the process of art making, allowed him to assimilate elements of painting intuitively from the wide variety of art that interested him. Howard found inspiration in the modernist movements of the 1920s, both for their adherence to abstract formal qualities and the cosmopolitan, international nature of the movements themselves. Influenced deeply by Surrealism, Howard was part of the group of American and European Surrealists in orbit around Julien Levy, and Howard participated in the first exhibition of Surrealist art in America at Levy’s gallery in 1932. Howard’s zeal to be a part of an international artist community led him to London in 1933, where he soon became associated with Unit One, a group of modernist painters, sculptors, and architects that was defined by its members’ commitment to abstract and surrealist art. As proof of his stature in London art circles, Howard participated in the landmark “International Surrealist Exhibition” at the New Burlington Galleries, London, in 1936, the first show of Surrealism to be held in England. In 1939, Howard enjoyed a one-man show at Peggy Guggenheim’s London gallery, Guggenheim-Jeune. Howard spent seven years in London before returning to California at the outbreak of World War II. During his time in California, Howard began to be recognized as an important figure in American modern art circles. He was included in the landmark Americans 1942 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and in that same year his work was shown at the inaugural exhibition of Peggy Guggenheim’s gallery, "Art of This Century." Shortly before Howard left, a retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, a well-received show of thirty-three oils and a number of gouaches and drawings that did much to establish Howard as a major figure in American modernism. Today, Howard’s work is included in such important collections as The Art Institute of Chicago; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
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