Cubist-inflected oil painting of a landscape
Cubist-inflected oil painting of a landscape

Frank Applebee
(American, 1902–1988)
Untitled (landscape), 1949
Oil on board
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University; museum purchase

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

This Cubist-inflected landscape by Frank Applebee, founder of the art department at Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University), illustrates the progressive attitudes in art that were taught and put into practice in post-World War II Auburn. It was Applebee who spearheaded the effort to purchase the group of modern paintings known as Advancing American Art that formed the core collection for this museum.

Woman pulling her son up subway stairs.

Those thirty-six avant-garde paintings arrived on campus in the summer of 1948, and quickly provided instructive examples for students and faculty alike. Note the similar geometric merging of narrative figuration and abstract patterns in both Applebee’s Alabama landscape and O. Louis Guglielmi’s New York urban composition, shown left.

Louis O. Guglielmi
(American)
Subway Exit, 1946
Oil on canvas
Advancing American Art Collection
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University

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