new-york

John Ferren

A.M. Sachs Gallery

John Ferren (1905–1970) was the kind of painter who stood on the sidelines but who nevertheless did seem to be around when something was happening. The A. M. Sachs Gallery has been showing a selection of his works, mostly from the last 20 years of his life. Ferren’s career actually goes back quite a bit further. In fact, his name ought to have a recognized place in the history of transatlantic modernism. He was active in Paris in the ’30s and Gertrude Stein says in Everybody’s Autobiography (1936), “He is the only American painter foreign painters consider as a painter and whose paintings interest them.” If so, why does the name Ferren not ring a bell today? Was he, Everybody’s Autobiography notwithstanding, really “somebody”?

On the basis of these postwar works, I suspect that the explanation for the present-day insignificance of a man who would seem to have been abreast of things both in

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