Claude LAWRENCE US, b. 1944
"Improvisation, to me, is the channeling of subconscious influences. Consciously, I’m satisfied when I have gone beyond the obvious; for example, the visual and intellectual, to the sensual, which I believe is energy, lyricism, and balance."
— Claude Lawrence
Claude Lawrence (born 1944) did not begin his career as a visual artist but as a musician. Between 1960-1980 he played the saxophone in various shows around the country. It wasn’t until 1987 that Claude became a fulltime painter.
He is a self-taught artist, having learned everything he knows from experimentation and attending museums and galleries. Asked about artists who influenced him he said he studied painters in books, from Picasso to Basquiat, and by looking at art.
Claude lived and worked in Harlem from 1987-90. During those years he met artists Fred Brown, Lorenzo Pace, Jack Whitten and Joe Overstreet. He worked the artist circuits, going to gallery openings and networking. Through word-of-mouth and diligence, he landed many exhibition opportunities. He met Bob Blackburn at an opening in New York who recruited him to study printmaking at the Printmakers Workshop from 1992-93.
Claude left New York and moved to Stockbridge MA from 1990-91. He moved to Los Angeles from 1991-94, Sag Harbor from 1994-2005, then San Miguel, Cuernavaca and Mexico City from 2005-2010. He now resides in Chicago.
His visual style is confident, gestural, abstract, mysterious and bold. Areas of the paper have thick opaque paint with watercolor-like washes. Some include charcoal drawings of faces and figures. What they all have in common is modernistic forms, lyrical brushwork, strong colors, energy and confidence. He says his paintings “are based on harmony and come straight from the self-conscious.”
Lawrence’s work is in the permanent collection of thirty-four important American museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.