Harold Ambellan 1912-2006
Harold Ambellan was born in Buffalo, New York. From 1935-1939, he was one of the many American artists who benefited from the Roosevelt’s Federal Art Project which during the Great Depression hired hundreds of artists who collectively created more than 100,000 paintings and over 18,000 sculptures. Although friendly with Jackson Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko and others who later became known as the Abstract Expressionists, Ambellan remained committed to the figurative in both his sculpture and painting. He was elected President of the Sculptors Guild of America in 1941 and in the same year his work was exhibited in group shows at both the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. With his broad humanist approach to art and his belief that art belongs to everyman, he was at odds with the rising tide of McCarthyism which was to sweep America and which eventually led him to move to France in 1954. In studios in Montparnasse and Antibes he continued his exploration of the human figure. Calling himself an artisan, Ambellan worked every day, often drawing on the scraps of paper and correspondence that happen to be scattered around his studio. He drew inspiration for his work from sources as varied as German Expressionism and Cubism and also from Greek, Indian and African art. As an artist who always identified with the common man, Ambellan took pleasure in knowing that his work was accessible to all and often sold pieces at very modest prices. From his most monumental sculptures to his smallest studies on paper, he devoted his life to the study of the human form. The rhythm and flow of his lines and curves are fundamentally instinctive; they speak a language which we intuitively recognise and to which we feel connected.