Alfonso Ossorio

  • Born 1916 in Manila, Philippines
  • Died 1990 in New York, NY, USA

Alfonso Ossorio combined Abstract Expressionism, art brut, and assemblage, using nontraditional materials. In his youth he was educated in England but in 1930 he moved to the United States, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1933. From 1934 to 1938 he studied fine art at Harvard University, then at the Rhode Island School of Design (1938–39). After he met Betty Parsons in 1941, she presented his work at her gallery in New York. During World War II he worked as a medical illustrator for the U.S. Army in Illinois, painting in his spare time. Ossorio’s first published work was the book Poems and Wood Engravings (1936). He is best known for his “Congregations”—assemblages of shells, pearls, glass eyes, animal bones, and driftwood—which he began in the late 1950s. He also produced paintings and works on paper. In 1950 he returned to the Philippines to paint The Angry Christ, a mural for the Chapel of St. Joseph the Worker. Ossorio was a friend of artists Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985) and Jackson Pollock (1912–1956). On Pollock’s advice, in 1951, he acquired “The Creeks,” an estate in East Hampton, where he housed Dubuffet’s collection of art brut (1951–61).

Artworks by Alfonso Ossorio in the exhibition