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Irene Rice Pereira (1902-1971)
Air Raid
signed and dated 'I. Rice Pereira '41' (lower right)
mixed media on paper
20¾ x 19 in. (52.7 x 48.3 cm.)
Private collection, New York, circa 1940s.
By descent to the present owner.
K.A. Bearor, Irene Rice Pereira: Her Paintings and Philosophy, Austin, Texas, 1993, p. 59.
E.A. Jewell, New York Times, "Europeans and Some Americans," February 9, 1942, sec. 2, p. 7.
E. McCausland, Springfield Sunday Union and Republican, "New League Considers 'Artists in the War'," June 21, 1942, p. 6E.
New York, ACA Gallery, Art Students League Exhibition, Artists in the War, 1942.

Lot Essay

Air Raid, executed in the 1940s, is an anti-war statement portrayed in a dark, brooding palette with ominous overtones. Best known for her ethereal approach to American Abstraction through the use of mixed media, Pereira studied at the Art Students League in New York at night while she supported herself with secretarial work. Once she was a full-time artist, Pereira increasingly experimented with different artistic styles and methods. In 1939 she created her first painting on glass in the Works Progress Administration's Design Laboratory. In a self-conscious effort to conceal her gender, Pereira favored signing her works with the ambiguous 'I. Rice Pereira.'

In 1953, Pereira became the second American woman, following Georgia O'Keeffe, to receive a retrospective at a major New York museum when the Whitney Museum of American Art showcased her work along with O'Keeffe's in a joint exhibition. The show was indicative of Pereira's significant contribution to Modernist art. In her lifetime, Pereira's distinguished exhibition record was comparable to, and even exceeded, many of the most prominent artists of the period, male or female.

Air Raid was featured in ACA Gallery's 1942 exhibit of Artist's in the War and was received favorably. In Elizabeth McCausland's review of the show, she comments that Air Raid is "an interesting fusion of abstract esthetic [sic] theory with content of real experience." (Springfield Sunday Union and Republican, "New League Considers 'Artists in the War'," June 21, 1942, p. 6E)

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