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Clifford Gleason

The Promise of Paint

Roger Hull

Published by the Hallie Ford Museum of Art

9 × 12. Full color illustrations. Bibliography. Index. 96 pages.

2020. ISBN 978-1-93095-783-1. Hardcover, $24.95.


Clifford Gleason (1913-1978), who grew up in Salem and spent his adult life in both Salem and Portland, was a talented and highly original artist whose work remains of keen interest to a small and loyal group of collectors and artists but whose accomplishments are less generally known than those of other Oregon mid-century artists.

Clifford Gleason: The Promise of Paint serves as both an introduction and a definitive study of an “artist’s artist,” who until now has not received the sustained attention that he and his work are due. It traces his career from the 1930s until the last months of his difficult life—difficult because of alcoholism, near poverty, and homosexuality in a repressive era. In paint, Gleason found the only realm in which he felt competent, confident, and successful; paint offered the promise of accomplishment.

Roger Hull’s knowledgeable text offers a chronological study combining biography, analysis of Gleason’s artworks, and assessment of his place within the broader context of contemporary and Pacific Northwest art.

Published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University, this richly illustrated monograph examines Gleason’s identity as a modern artist as he responded to the rapid changes in artistic modernism from the late 1930s, when he studied with Louis Bunce at the Salem Federal Art Center, to the 1970s, when he rethought the legacy of Abstract Expressionism in works that are unique to him, visually beautiful and poetically expressive.


Member of AAUP