Jean Xceron (1890-1967) was a modernist artist who emigrated to America from Greece in 1904, when he was fourteen years old, Jean Xceron is described as having a reputation as an artist that has mysteriously fallen into obscurity---especially since he was reportedly quite prominent during his lifetime.  However, a partial explanation of that omission is the fact that many of his papers and early records have been lost.  He was a painter of biomorphic abstractions and did collages.

Jean Xceron’s formal training occurred while attending the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C., from 1910 to 1917. He moved to New York City in 1920, where he met Joaquin Torres-García, who became an early mentor. By 1927 Xceron had moved to Paris, earning a living as an art critic for the Chicago Tribune and the Boston Evening Transcript. But more importantly, Xceron immersed himself in abstract art through direct contact with a number of Europe’s major abstractionists including Jean Arp, Albert Gleizes, Jean Hélion, Wassily Kandinsky, Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg, among others. With an exhibition of his work in 1931 at the prestigious Galerie de France, Xceron made a name for himself among Parisian art circles, which served him well upon his return to the United States in late 1937.

Xceron’s move back to New York coincided with the development of the “second wave” of abstract art in America. The American Abstract Artists (AAA) was formed in 1936, and the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, containing the Solomon R. Guggenheim Collection, opened in 1939. Xceron was eagerly embraced by the artists within AAA for his firsthand knowledge of European abstraction. Hilla Rebay, Solomon Guggenheim’s art adviser and the founding director of his museum, quickly purchased several Xceron paintings for Guggenheim’s collection and hired the artist to work as an artist/curator at the museum, a position he held until his death in 1967.


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