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(1909 - 2000)
Born in Yonkers, New York, John Heliker was originally a Cubist painter working with shattered planes of color, and then he evolved into a realist with loose modernist brushwork and bright color in the painting of interiors and the Maine coast.
He studied at the Art Students League from 1927 to 1929 and showed early interest in precise arrangements of forms and formal relationships. Between 1948 and 1958, he made several trips to Italy, which influenced complexity in his works.
He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1951. In 1958, Heliker took part in a conference on the visual arts at the University of Illinois. He taught at three New York City institutions, including Columbia University, from 1950-1977, the Art Students League, and Parsons.
In 1965, Heliker was a founding member of the New York Studio School with Mercedes Matter, Alex Katz, Leland Bell, Philip Guston and Nicholas Carone. He became an Associate of the National Academy of Design, New York City, in 1979, and an Academician in 1981.
He exhibited extensively at the Kraushaar Galleries, in New York City. Beginning in 1945, he had nineteen shows there, including his final one in 2000 that would be on the gallery walls shortly before his death on February 22nd at age ninety-one. He was a friend of John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Mark Rothko and Walker Evans.
In an unusual two-year exhibition from 1964-1966, The American Federation of Arts included John Heliker's painting, "Beach and Driftwood," in their Maine - 50 Artists of the 20th Century. At the time of the show, the painting was in the collection of the New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut.
A retrospective of his work was shown at the Whitney Museum in 1968, with a catalogue of ninety-four works authored by Lloyd Goodrich and Patricia Fitzgerald Mandel. This exhibition had 38 landscapes, still lifes, interiors, seascapes and portraits, and included many drawings in pencila and charcoal.
In Volume Four (1985-1986) of "The New Criterion", John Heliker's work is discussed in 'Versions of Pastoral', as it is in Volume Eighteen (1999-2000) in a review of his final show at Kraushaar, "A State of Being: Drawings of John Heliker".
A work by John Heliker is in the collection of the National Museum of American Art.
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