1909 - 1977
Gertrude Abercrombie was an American Surrealist painter based, for most of her career, in Chicago, Illinois. Throughout her adult life she was active in the regional art scene as well as the Chicago Jazz circuit, from which she drew constant inspiration. Although largely self-taught, Abercrombie’s mature works are painted with a precise and controlled style. Her subjects spanned the gamut of surrealist tropes reinvigorated with a particular brooding magical quality through her usage of dark palettes and iconography linked to American folktales regarding witchcraft. Abercrombie spoke of her work as coming directly from her subconscious, articulated through a process of selection and reduction.
During her lifetime, Abercrombie was a prominent Chicago artist, and had solo exhibitions at the Chicago Society of Artists as well as at the Hyde Park art Center. In 1936, and 1938 she received prizes for her works from the Art Institute of Chicago during their Annual Exhibition. Posthumously, such prestigious institutions as the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Smithsonian American Art Museum have acquired Abercrombie’s work.