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Myron Stout

Kent Fine Art / Flynn

Myron Stout (1908–87) was the exemplary postwar American artists’ artist. He worked small, liked easels, and labored intimately, meticulously, and sometimes at very great length on his drawings and paintings. Henry Geldzahler described him as an “exquisite.”

Quite a few of Stout’s modest little masterpieces—Shaker-plain abstractions, often in black and white—come with open-ended, epic dates. A painting such as Aegis, 1955–79, for example, which measures a mere 24 by 20 inches and consists of a white, shieldlike form set against a bit of black ground, apparently took Stout 24 years to complete. Another untitled charcoal drawing—basically a two-tone diagonal grid—reproduced in the catalogue, carries a caption that reads “early-mid 1950s–80s?” In a 1953 journal entry, the artist wrote that “The life of a symbol is in its refusal to become fixed.” This line could pretty much serve as a motto

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