Corinne Michelle West, The Wiz, 1976
78 x 48 in.
Corinne Michelle West (1908-1991) was an American Abstract Expressionist artist artist, who often painted under the name Michael Corinne West. Born in Chicago, she attended the Cincinnati Art Academy and graduated in 1930. She had her first solo show at the Rochester Art Club in 1936, around the same time she began going by Mikael to aid in her success. In 1940, West adopted Michael, which she used in her everyday life as well as her painting. In the late thirties she met Arshile Gorky, an early leader of the New York school. They became close, and West became his muse. They were probably lovers, but it is known that Gorky asked West to marry him several times, but she refused. While some of her early work used figuration, West turned to pure abstraction before many of her contemporaries. Her work demonstrates a profound understanding of the nature and effect of abstraction. West occasionally used all black in her paintings, but most of her works are explosions of color. Her later work demonstrates the same profound exploration of line and color. The Wiz is a powerful work, that feels somewhat primal. There is an aggression that comes to mark some of West's paintings and this piece tends toward that energy, but does not feel angry, but rather ecstatically intense. Using only primary colors, black, and white, West adds to that sense of primal urgency to create a very effective and beautiful painting.